“It is a wise child that knows his own father,” the poet Homer opined many centuries ago. Establishing paternity continues to be a legal and personal dilemma in many families, even in this era of DNA testing.
When a married heterosexual couple has a child in Maryland, the state recognizes the man as the legal father — and defines certain rights and responsibilities to this role, including providing financial support to the child. If the parents are not married, one or both parents must take action to legally establish paternity.
The biological father can include his name on the birth certificate and sign an Affidavit of Parentage. The father may request genetic test results before signing the affidavit. The Maryland Department of Human Resources strongly encourages fathers to acknowledge their biological children. If the biological father is not in the picture, the mother can provide evidence to the Maryland Child Support Services to locate him. Family court can authorize that genetic testing be done to establish paternity.
The state has an interest in documenting the parentage of all children since legal paternity can affect decisions regarding child support, Social Security and veterans benefits, health insurance, life insurance, and, ultimately, inheritance of property.
While the state recognizes the advantages of knowing the identities of the mother and father of every child, filing or answering a paternity suit is often not an easy decision. Our Hunt Valley, Maryland, law firm can answer any questions you have about your legal rights in a paternity case.