Howard and Montgomery County Attorneys Explain the Process of Paternity Establishment in Maryland
Holding Fulton, Columbia, Bethesda and Rockville parents to their obligations to provide for the children they bring into the world
Paternity can be an issue during divorce proceedings and child custody hearings. At McCabe Russell, PA, we represent mothers and children who want to confirm paternity and men who seek to confirm or contest that they are the father. Our Howard and Montgomery County paternity lawyers explain how paternity can be established and the legal and practical consequences when paternity is or is not proven. While most paternity disputes are resolved during the negotiation phase, our skilled lawyers are ready to present the issue of paternity in court. From our offices in Fulton, Columbia, Bethesda and Rockville, we represent families in paternity cases throughout Montgomery and Howard Counties.
Reasons for establishing paternity
Establishing paternity can be beneficial to all three parties — the child, the father and the mother — for the following reasons:
- Child custody. Biological parents have the right to share in their child’s life. When couples separate, a father with legal paternity can request joint or sole legal and physical custody. Fathers can also request visitation rights.
- Child benefits. Children may be entitled to benefits when paternity is confirmed. These benefits include Social Security, health insurance, veteran’s benefits and life insurance. Children also have the right to inheritance and to be compensated if a father dies due to wrongful death.
- Child support. Courts can only order child support if there is legal proof of paternity.
It is also important for children to know who their biological parents are if any medical issues arise. Children need to know if their natural parents have any illnesses or adverse medical conditions, so the child’s doctor can provide proper medical treatment. Parents are often better matches than strangers if the child needs blood or organ donation.
In Maryland, paternity is generally established in one of three ways:
- An affidavit of parentage form. If the father signs this form while the mother is in the hospital with the child, then the father’s name will be placed on the birth certificate. The form can also be filled out after the mother leaves the hospital if both parents sign the form before a notary public. The form cannot be signed if the mother was married to someone else when the child was delivered. A parent can rescind the affidavit within 60 days of signing it. After 60 days, a court order is needed to rescind paternity provided the parent can show duress, fraud or a material mistake.
- Genetic testing. Either parent can request that the parties undergo genetic testing to determine paternity. If the results of the test show a better than 97.3% probability that the man is the father, then both parties can consent to the issue of paternity. The mother, child and potential father must all take the test, which consists of obtaining a saliva sample. Genetic tests are very reliable.
- A court hearing. If one parent refuses to give consent despite a greater than 97.3% likelihood of paternity, then the issue of paternity is submitted to the local family court judge. At trial, any evidence where the man indicated he was the father can be admitted.
Contact our Montgomery and Howard County lawyers today to discuss how paternity is determined
At McCabe Russell, PA, we understand that families have questions about their rights and duties when paternity is uncertain or being denied. Our Maryland paternity attorneys guide the parties through the process. To get answers to your questions, please call us at 443-917-3347 or complete our contact form. We have offices in Fulton, Columbia, Bethesda and Rockville.