Establishing paternity gives a child born outside a marriage the same legal rights as children born to married parents. While a child born during a marriage is presumed to be the natural and legal child of the husband and wife, a child born outside of marriage must have their paternity established in order to receive benefits from the father. This may include Social Security benefits, veteran’s benefits, and inheritance rights.
Establishing paternity allows the mother to seek financial responsibility (i.e. child support, benefits) from the father. Likewise, establishing paternity gives the father legal rights to the child, including timesharing, visitation, and decision making.
At any time before the child has reached the age of majority (18 years of age), either parent may legally take action to establish paternity.
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