In North Carolina, the law states that when a child is born to married parents, the mother and father are both automatically legally considered their child’s parents. However, this is not the case when an unmarried couple has a child.
If you are a father and are not married to your child’s mother, it is important to legally establish your paternity, whether or not you live with your child’s mother or have a continued relationship with her. Taking this measure helps to protect both you and your child. In this blog, we’re taking a look at 5 reasons to establish paternity.
1. You gain the right to ask for custody and visitation.
Once you establish paternity, you may pursue child visitation and other custody rights. In North Carolina, the law does not favor mothers over fathers. If the parents of the child cannot reach an agreement regarding custody and visitation, a court will determine what arrangement will be in the child’s best interest. Keep in mind, however, that paternity does not guarantee you visitation rights with your child, as factors such as drug use and criminal activity can disqualify you.
2. You get to have a say in decisions about your child’s upbringing.
While your child is under 18, he or she will need parental permission for enrolling in school, obtaining a passport, and getting a driver’s license. If you are not listed on your child’s birth certificate, you will not be allowed to grant this permission.
3. Your child will be able to access medical histories from your side of the family.
It is important for your child’s health for them and their doctors to be able to access medical histories from your side of the family. This is only possible if you have legally established paternity. This access helps your child know what conditions he or she may be predisposed to developing. It also allows them to determine what testing and precautions may be necessary for them to stay healthy.
4. Your child can qualify for medical and life insurance through you.
Once you establish paternity, your insurer will be required to also cover your child, as long as they qualify as your dependent. You can also enroll the child’s mother. If the mother has her own insurance, one of your plans will be primary and one will be secondary for the child. If you live apart, the custodial parent’s plan is typically the primary. The secondary plan would only pay what remains after the primary pays.
5. It is easier for your child to inherit your assets after your death.
The US Supreme Court long ago ruled that differentiating between “legitimate” and “illegitimate” children is unconstitutional. Still, if your parenthood is not clearly documented, your child could potentially be denied Social Security and other benefits when you die. Naming your child in your Will helps make sure they receive anything you want them to inherit, but documentation of your paternity is equally as important.
Establishing paternity is beneficial to your child’s physical and emotional wellbeing. If you are an unmarried father and want to learn more about establishing paternity, contact Haas & Associates today. We have the knowledge and experience to address this and any other aspect of family law. Give us a call at 919-783-9669 today!