In your state or country, what legal problems can unmarried couples land on if paternity is not established?

Is establishing paternity only necessary for unmarried couples who break up? Or is it important for unmarried couples who share a child and are still in a committed relationship? Answers will vary based on your location. Some of our readers weighed in on potential paternity problems unmarried couples in their areas face. Keep reading to learn more, but consult a lawyer local to you for any specific questions you may have or legal advice you may need.
Andrew Pickett

Andrew Pickett

Lead Trial Attorney at Andrew Pickett Law.

A Variety of Legal Issues

Unmarried couples face a variety of legal issues if paternity is not established. The most common legal problems or disputes include child support payments, custody or visitation rights, and inheritance rights. Without establishing paternity, there is no basis for determining the father’s legal rights or responsibilities towards his child. As a result, unmarried couples may face lengthy and expensive court proceedings to resolve any paternity-related disputes.

Law Lies with the Mother

In Tennessee, the most common issue that unmarried couples face without paternity established is how a father will be able to spend parenting time with the children if the couple breaks up. Our law says that custody lies one hundred percent with the mother for unmarried children and most fathers do not know that just signing a birth certificate is not enough to make you the legal dad!

Scott Kimberly

Scott Kimberly

Min Hwan Ahn, Esq

Min Hwan Ahn, Esq

Founder of EZ485.

Access to Health and Medical Records

In Pennsylvania, when paternity is not established, unmarried couples can experience a myriad of legal problems and disputes. Some of these issues include:

    1. Child custody and visitation rights: Without established paternity, a biological father may have difficulty asserting his rights to custody or visitation. This can create conflicts between the couple and may even require litigation to resolve.

    2. Child support: In the absence of paternity establishment, a father may not be legally obligated to pay child support, leaving the mother to bear the financial burden of raising the child alone.

    3. Inheritance rights: Children of unmarried parents whose paternity is not established may face difficulties when it comes to inheritance rights. This can lead to disputes among family members and potential legal battles over the distribution of assets.

    4. Access to health and medical records: It may be challenging for a father to access his child’s medical records and make medical decisions on their behalf without paternity being established.

    5. Government benefits: Children of unmarried parents without established paternity may be ineligible for certain government benefits, such as Social Security survivor benefits, which can create financial hardship for the family.

Difficulty Applying for Government Assistance Programs

Unmarried couples in California who have a child together and do not establish paternity face several legal problems or disputes that can be difficult to resolve.

If there is no established paternity, the child may not have a legal father. This means that if either party decides to pursue custody rights or child support, they may have difficulty proving the identity of the other parent. Since it’s important for courts to know who both parents are to make sound decisions regarding custody and visitation rights, an unmarried couple must first establish paternity before any such issue can be addressed. Without establishing paternity, unpaid child support concerns may become more complicated if only one party has been granted parental rights.

In some cases, when paternity is not established within two years of the birth of the child, this situation creates a legally recognized “presumption” that the man claiming he is father has been recognized as such by both parties, even though evidence supporting his claim was never presented in court. It’s also possible for a person other than biological father, such as a lifelong friend or uncle, to potentially receive parental rights over another individual with more certain claims of paternity due to this presumption.

Additionally, without establishing paternity, unmarried couples will find it much harder to apply for government assistance programs like Medicaid or health insurance coverage through benefits provided by their employers since proof of legal parenthood must be presented before these services can be accessed. On top of all this, if one partner later denies being a parent but then calls upon their partner for payment related expenses it could mean steep financial consequences because those payments wouldn’t qualify them for tax deductions unless proof was submitted beforehand showing there were children involved and acknowledging them as legitimate partners in parenting responsibilities.

Richard Sullivan

Richard Sullivan

Founding Partner at Sullivan Law.

This is a crowdsourced article. Contributors' statements do not necessarily reflect the opinion of this website, other people, businesses, or other contributors.