Just because a mother lists someone as the father on a baby’s birth certificate, it does not necessarily mean it is the birth father. Paternity refers to determining who the birth father is, and this can be done a number of ways.

Establishing paternity gives the father certain legal rights. It also may benefit the mother, and there are numerous advantages for the child.

Legal considerations

According to the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse, establishing paternity gives the fathers certain legal rights. With it, they can request visitation or custody rights. They can also ask to be a joint decision-maker for things such as religion, education and other important considerations.

Paternity also gives unmarried fathers the right to object to mothers moving their children out of state or ask for custody if there is neglect or abuse in the child’s primary home. For mothers, paternity allows them to request child support or shared custody.

Paternity also gives children legal rights. These include access to life and health insurance benefits, Social Security benefits and inheritance.

Benefits for the child

One of the biggest benefits of establishing paternity is what it does for children. According to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, fatherless children are at higher risk of becoming involved in criminal acts or drugs and dropping out of school.

Even if fathers do not live with the children, being in their lives has lasting positive impacts. Supporting and loving them gives children emotional stability and security. Knowing the father also gives the child access to paternal medical records, which may improve health.

Establishing paternity gives legal rights and other benefits to everyone involved.