Legal paternity is not automatic as some families in Louisiana will discover. However, it is important for both parents and children for fathers to establish legal paternity as there are many benefits it can provide to everyone involved.
How is paternity established?
If the parents are married, paternity is assumed when the child is born. If the parents are not married, the easiest way to establish it is by being present at the hospital when the child is born and filling out the birth certificate jointly with the mother, including the father’s information. If both parents do not fill out the form jointly and decide to amend it later, they will need to pay a small fee to do so. If there is a question about who the father is, a DNA test might be requested before establishing paternity.
The benefits of establishing legal paternity
Establishing legal paternity provides many benefits for both the parents and the child, even if the parents are no longer together. Some of these benefits include:
- Encouraging a closer relationship between the child and the father
- Helping children develop a stronger identity since they will be more aware of where they come from
- Creating a space for the father’s extended family to be a part of the child’s life
- Allowing the child access to both the parents’ medical history if there is a medical issue late
- Assuring custody and visitation rights for both parents
- Ensuring that children receive child support and other financial benefits from both parents
- Protecting a father’s rights in the case of a disputed adoption
Since a father’s presence in their child’s life has long-term positive outcomes, establishing paternity early on is important to begin creating a strong bond. A father’s support can help make a child’s life fuller and more stable through the years.