Child custody and child support are not only applicable to married couples getting a divorce. They also are relevant to unmarried couples who don't stay together. However, you must establish paternity to claim joint custody or monetary support. You may be hesitant to do this, but establishing paternity brings benefits to all parties involved.
Benefits to the father
Fathers deserve just as much quality and quantity time with their children as mothers do. Although things are changing, it can still be difficult for fathers to claim equal parental rights, but without establishing and legitimating paternity first, it's impossible. Legitimation allows fathers to have the legal right to be involved in their children's lives. Once a man has taken this legal action, he can pursue joint physical or legal custody, or visitation rights.
On the other hand, a man who doesn't believe he is the father, including a married man who suspects his wife's infidelity, will also benefit from establishing paternity. It's not fair to him to have to support a child who is not his own. A simple paternity test can settle the matter, but the process of de-legitimation takes the help of an attorney.
Benefits to the mother
A single mother often relies on child support to have financial stability for her and her child, but first she needs to know who the father of her child is. Even if she already knows who he is, she must legally establish the fact. While it only takes a voluntary acknowledgment or paternity test to confirm it, it's not always easy to obtain either one if the presumed father is uncooperative. If this situation applies to you, it's best to have the assistance of an attorney with experience in Georgia family law to help you.
Benefits to the child
It may be tempting not to claim or pursue paternity. Perhaps the father doesn't want the responsibility, or the mother doesn't want the father to be in the picture. Either way, you need to set aside your desires and do what would be best for the child. Children have better lives when their fathers are actively present and involved. Other benefits include the following:
- A sense of identity
- A relationship with the father's family
- Knowledge of medical history
- Rights to the father's medical and life insurance
- Rights to inheritance, Social Security or veterans' benefits
Although it's best to establish paternity at the time of the child's birth, it's not too late to do it later. However, the longer a father waits, the more he risks losing his p arental rights, so act now.