Posted on: 17 June 2016
A new child is always a blessing, but a baby can also bring a number of challenges and complications. That's especially true if you're an unwed mother. Single moms face numerous challenges in raising their children, including financial difficulties and the logistical obstacles of managing a career, education, personal life, and child care. If you recently gave birth as a single mother, you may be considering legal action to get child support and childcare assistance from the father. However, if the father isn't claiming paternity, that process could be complicated. Here are a few tips to think about as you seek to establish paternity:
Consider both sides of established paternity. When you're in a challenging financial situation, it's tempting to only focus on the financial benefit of child support. While child support may be helpful, carefully consider all of the consequences of established paternity. Once the father is legally established, he can then pursue any form of visitation or custody. You could be tied up in court for a significant period of time fighting unreasonable custody and visitation demands.
Also consider whether the father is suitable to have shared custody of the child. If he doesn't want to be named as the father now, will he put in the time necessary to care for the child during his custodial times? Another thing to think about is whether the father is really willing or capable of making the child support payments. If not, you may be opening yourself up to a custody dispute without receiving any of the financial help you seek.
Prove paternal activities. If you do decide to move forward, one way to establish paternity is to prove that the father has participated in paternal activities. Many states have "presumed father" laws, which state that if you take part in certain activities, you are presumed to be the responsible father. For instance, if the father proposed to you while you were pregnant or after the baby was born, that could be seen as a sign of taking responsibility for the baby. If the man told others that he was the baby's father, either on person or on social media, that could be used to establish paternity. Look at his actions and then present those in court to show that he is acting like the father.
Get a court-ordered DNA test. The last step is to go to court and ask for a DNA test. These tests are relatively quick, easily accessible, and extremely accurate. You will have to show the court that you need financial support and possibly even custodial help. You will also have to reasonably explain why you believe the man is the father of the child. Again, if the test conclusively proves that he is the father, you can then pursue child support, but he can also pursue visitation and custody.
For more information, talk to a family lawyer who handles paternity cases. He or she can help you decide on the next best steps.Share