When married couples have children, the state presumes the mother’s husband as the father. However, the state does not make any such assumption when unmarried couples have children. Therefore, unwed fathers must act in order to have a legal right to their kids.
Taking the necessary steps to legally establish paternity offers benefits for fathers, as well as for their children.
Benefits for the father
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, establishing paternity creates a legal relationship between the father and the child. Fathers must have this legal status in order to pursue their parental rights. For instance, this includes the ability to seek visitation, custody or child support. Taking this step also allows a father’s name to get added to his child’s birth certificate.
Benefits for the child
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, creating a legal parent-child relationship through paternity offers numerous benefits to children born to unmarried parents. Establishing paternity often gives children access to both sides of their families and histories. Additionally, it makes them eligible to receive health care, Social Security or U.S. military benefits through their fathers. Unless unmarried fathers establish paternity, their children may not have the right to inherit from their estates upon their deaths.
It may seem a small matter for unwed fathers in relationships with the mothers of their children and raising their kids together with them. However, unmarried dads lack basic legal rights toward their kids. Eventually, this lack of parental rights may affect their ability to have involvement and a say in their children’s lives.