Annapolis Family Lawyers Helping Clients Establish Paternity

Support and guidance for clients throughout Maryland

Establishing paternity means that the courts recognize a father’s relationship to a child. As the result of an official, legal relationship, a father may be entitled to share custody of his child and be required to pay, or entitled to receive, child support. For the child’s benefit, parents should establish parentage as soon as possible.

For non-married individuals, establishing paternity is an important step to ensure proper support and financial contribution are provided to your child. The Annapolis paternity lawyers at Peters & Clark, P.A. are experienced and skilled in family law, and are equipped to guide you through this delicate process.

Benefits of establishing paternity in Maryland

Maryland is one of 11 states that have adopted the Uniform Parentage Act, which modernized the law for determining the parents of a child. This law, and a series of U.S. Supreme Court decisions, invalidated antiquated statutes that were detrimental to children born to unmarried mothers.

Benefits of establishing paternity include:

  • Substantiating a relationship, however formal, between the father and child, which may help to cultivate a sense of family identity for the child.
  • Allowing the father’s name to be listed on the child’s birth certificate when appropriate.
  • Avoiding costly and time-consuming trial proceedings.
  • Giving the father certain custody and visitation rights, and the right to be consulted about adoption.
  • Allowing the child the right to certain benefits from the father, such as financial support, inheritance, social security, veteran’s benefits, and life and health insurance.
  • Creating an opportunity for a person to learn about their family medical history.

How to establish paternity

In Maryland, there are three ways of establishing parentage:

  • Through marriage, as the law presumes that the husband of a woman who is married at the time of conception or birth of a child is the baby’s father.
  • Through court ordered tests for children born to unmarried mothers, as detailed in MD Code Family Law §5–1028
  • With an Affidavit of Parentage. A father can sign an Affidavit of Parentage, which acknowledges his paternity even if he is not married to the mother of the child, if he is married to someone else, or if he is under age 18. In the state of Maryland, a child born to a non-married couple is entitled to support from both parents.

An Affidavit of Parentage may be completed by the father of the child directly after birth. If the baby is still in the hospital, the father’s name will appear on the child’s birth certificate.

If you complete the form after leaving the hospital, both parents must sign the form in the presence of a Notary Public. Forms are available through the Maryland Department of Health & Mental Hygiene/Division of Vital Records. This process can be used to establish paternity until the child’s 18th birthday. You may want to consult with an Annapolis family law attorney before signing this form. If you are not certain that you are the biological father of the child, it is best not sign the form without counsel.

Refusing to complete an Affidavit of Parentage does not absolve a father from fulfilling his obligation to help provide financial support for his child. Paternity can be established by court ordered genetic testing. Both parents will be required to take genetic tests, which require a swab of the inside of the cheek to gather a sample of saliva that is used for DNA analysis.

Help protect your child’s future with an experienced Annapolis paternity lawyer

Having an Annapolis family law attorney by your side is a great asset when dealing with complicated paternity matters. When you work with the attorneys of Peters & Clark, P.A., you enjoy the benefits of having an experienced, knowledgeable, and compassionate legal team working on your behalf. Please take a moment now to contact us at 410.921.2422 to reserve a consultation. The firm proudly serves clients in Anne Arundel County and the surrounding areas.