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How is paternity established in Massachusetts?

As many of our readers know, establishing paternity is the gateway to asserting your parental rights. If paternity isn't established, then you may encounter problems with gaining visitation rights or vying for child custody. It's an issue some of our Worcester readers are all too familiar with.

But for those who are new to our blog, you may be wondering how paternity is established here in Massachusetts. If you're like a lot of our readers, you probably have questions about the process and whether or not you will need a lawyer's help. In this week's blog post, we will hopefully be able to answer some of your questions.

The first question most people have is how paternity is established here in our state. In Massachusetts, if a child's parents were married when the child was conceived, during the pregnancy or at the time of birth, then the husband is considered the child's legal father. This means that his name will be placed on the birth certificate and he is awarded parental rights.

Things work differently though if a couple is unmarried. To gain parental rights, a man must first establish paternity either through signing a voluntary acknowledgement form or getting a court order, which will require DNA testing of both the father and the child.

Establishing paternity is not only important when it comes to visitation and child custody issues, but it also comes into play with child support payments as well. And even though you may not realize it, paternity becomes important when establishing eligibility for certain benefits, such as veteran's benefits, having an accurate medical history to look at, accessing the father's medical and life insurance, and even establishing a child's right to inheritance.

Even though we have outlined how paternity is established in Massachusetts, you may still have questions about the process. These questions are often best directed towards an attorney knowledgeable in family law issues, such as those found here at Seder & Chandler, LLP. With the help of our experienced staff, you will not only get the answers to your questions but assurance that you are going through the process the way the law intended.

Sources: The Massachusetts Department of Revenue, "Frequently Asked Questions," Accessed Feb. 10, 2015

The Massachusetts Department of Revenue, "Paternity Establishment," Accessed Feb. 10, 2015

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