What is Paternity in Maryland?

When a married couple has a baby in Maryland, both parents are automatically viewed as the child’s legal parents. Under state laws, they both have all the rights and responsibilities of parenthood. However, the rule doesn’t apply to unmarried couples since the child’s mother is the only one automatically recognized as the child’s legal parent.

On the other hand, the child’s father misses out on essential benefits and obligations in the parent-child relationship unless they take further action. That’s where paternity comes in to establish the legal fatherhood of the child. With the help of men’s rights lawyers in Montgomery County, the process can happen through a court proceeding or both parents signing an Affidavit of Parentage.

What Does It Mean to Establish Paternity?

Establishing paternity means legally recognizing a father’s relationship with a child. It’s crucial for the child’s benefit, so you should start the process immediately.

The process is also vital for you as it helps accomplish the following:

  • It opens up the opportunity to build a father-child relationship, enabling the child to benefit from it by giving them a sense of identity despite being born to unmarried parents.
  • Allows your name as the child’s father to be listed on the child’s birth certificate
  • It helps you create a father-child relationship without going to court.
  • It gives you an edge when seeking child custody and visitation through court action. It also gives you a right to be consulted about adoption.
  • The child can enjoy the right to various benefits from the father, including financial support, social security, inheritance, life insurance, veteran benefits, and health insurance.
  • It becomes easier for the child to learn about your medical history and possibly benefit from health insurance coverage from your union, military service, or employer.

As a father, you want to see your child enjoy all the benefits you can offer just by being their parent. That’s why you should not delay establishing paternity if it is contentious and keeping you and your child from enjoying the parent-child relationship you deserve. Consult fathers’ rights attorneys in Montgomery County to understand the process and seek help filing the petition.

What Are the Methods of Establishing Paternity in Maryland?

Maryland state recognizes three methods of establishing paternity, as explained by Montgomery County fathers’ rights attorneys:

Marital Presumption

If you’re married to your child’s mother at the time of your child’s conception, the law presumes that you’re legitimately the child’s father. Maryland has a rebuttable presumption that a child legitimately belongs to the man the child’s mother was married to at the time of conception. Rebuttable presumption means the court will assume that to be the truth unless it is challenged.

Affidavit of Parentage

If you and your child’s mother are unmarried when the child is born, paternity can only be established by signing an Affidavit of Parentage. As a father, you can sign the document to acknowledge paternity even if you’re married to someone else or under the age of 18. Signing the document is voluntary, unlike going to court, which is involuntary and bound by the judge’s decision.

In most situations, unmarried couples sign the Affidavit at the hospital or birthing center in the presence of an official witness. After you sign it, the document is sent to the Vital Statics Administration for filing.

Don’t feel pushed if you have reservations about signing the Affidavit of Parentage at the hospital. You can take the form home with you and complete it later in the presence of a notary public. Contact skilled fathers’ rights lawyers in Montgomery County if you need legal consultation before completing the form.

Can I Cancel an Affidavit of Parentage?

If you signed an Affidavit of Parentage but later established that you’re not the child’s father or the mother changed their mind about who the father is, you may rescind or cancel the Affidavit. How you approach the process depends on how long it has been since you signed the document.

Count 60 days from the date the last person signed if you didn’t sign on the same day as the mother. You can initiate the process with the help of Montgomery County men’s rights lawyers. However, if it has been more than 60 days since signing the document, the Rescission Form will not be practical, and only a court order can make the Affidavit null.

So, consider getting genetic testing before signing an Affidavit of Parentage if you’re unsure you’re the child’s father or the child’s mother has given you a reason to doubt the child’s paternity.

Going to Court

The judicial process is the final way to establish paternity. A petition can be brought to court by you or your child’s mother or a government lawyer on behalf of the local Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) for various reasons. The CSEA would be concerned with paternity because it aims to ensure parents provide financial support for their children.

The court will order genetic testing; everyone must submit to testing to settle the case or proceed to trial. If the tests establish that you’re the child’s father, the court will issue a final paternity “judgment of filiation” that formally determines paternity. Consult experienced fathers’ rights attorneys in Montgomery County if you need legal support.

Defend Your Men’s Rights Today With Skilled Legal Aid

If you were unmarried to your child’s mother at conception and you have been denied the right to build a relationship with your child, you may need to establish paternity. If you didn’t sign an Affidavit of Paternity at birth, you could file a petition in court to resolve the issue. Experienced men’s rights attorneys in Montgomery County can guide you.

Our fathers’ rights attorneys in Montgomery County can aggressively fight to protect your rights as a father if your child’s mother is trying to keep you out of your child’s life. Being a dad is one of life’s joys that no one should take away from you. Contact Pare & Associates, LLC, at (301) 962-2492 to schedule a FREE case assessment.