A child born to a non-married couple is entitled to support from both parents. Establishing paternity in Maryland for a child born out of wedlock is an important step to ensure that your child spends time with both of his or her parents, and that both parents contribute financially to the child’s upbringing.
Benefits of establishing paternity
Maryland is one of 11 states that have adopted the Uniform Parentage Act, which modernizes the law for determining the parents of children. An important feature of this law is that it shuns the term “illegitimate” and instead uses the phrase, “child with no presumed father.” The UPA and a series of U.S. Supreme Court decisions have invalidated laws that put children born out-of-wedlock at a disadvantage.
The People’s Law Library of Maryland lists the following benefits of establishing paternity:
- Establishes a relationship between the father and child, and gives the child a sense of identity.
- Allows the father’s name to be listed on the child’s birth certificate.
- Avoids the need to go to court.
- Gives the father custody rights, visitation and to be consulted about adoption.
- Gives the child the right to benefits from the father such as financial support, inheritance, social security, veteran’s benefits, and life and health insurance.
- Makes it easier for the child to learn the father’s medical history, and benefit from the father’s health insurance.
Establishing paternity in Maryland
You can establish paternity in two different ways under Maryland law. The first option is through an Affidavit of Parentage form and the second option is through a court order. MD Code Family Law §5–1028. A father may complete an Affidavit of Parentage while the mother and baby are still in the hospital, allowing the dad’s name to 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 and you can establish paternity using this process up until the child’s 18th birthday.
You may consult with a family law attorney before signing this form, and if you are not certain that you are the biological father of the child, do not sign the form.
Refusing to complete an Affidavit of Parentage does not also absolve a father from fulfilling his obligation to help provide financial support for his child as paternity can be established by the court through genetic testing. If the father refuses to submit to a genetic test, the court can order him to take the test. Both parents will be required to take the test, which only requires a swab of the inside of the cheek to gather a sample of saliva that will be used for DNA analysis.
The state of Maryland makes it abundantly simple for a father to step up and assert his paternity and enjoy the rights and responsibilities that come with fatherhood. The child will benefit from the sense of knowing who they are and establishing a bond with both parents.
A Maryland family law attorney from the law firm of Cynthia H. Clark & Associates, LLC, can be helpful if you are interested in establishing paternity and working out custody arrangements so that you can spend time with your child.
If you require the services of a Maryland family law attorney with your paternity case, we are here to help. When you work with the family law attorneys at Cynthia H. Clark & Associates, P.A., you enjoy the benefits of their more than 30 years of combined legal experience working on your behalf. Please take a moment now to contact us at 410.921.2422 to reserve a consultation today at our Annapolis-based office to discuss your case.