Establishing legal paternity is often a goal for unmarried mothers who want to ensure that their child’s father contributes to the child’s financial needs and well-being, but it can be just as important for unmarried fathers who want to secure the rights to be a part of their child’s life. If you are an unmarried father seeking legal paternity, a family law attorney can guide you through the process.
What Are the Benefits of Establishing Paternity?
Establishing legal paternity is often crucial for children because it allows them to receive support from both parents in the form of child support payments, health insurance coverage, access to family medical history, Social Security benefits, inheritances, and more. For fathers, legal paternity means they can pursue custody and visitation, contribute to parenting plan agreements, and be notified if a child’s mother wishes to place him or her for adoption.
The Legal Paternity Process in Wisconsin
Whether you live apart from your children’s mother or you cohabit in an opposite-sex or same-sex partnership, seeking legal paternity may be necessary to protect the interests of you and your children now and in the future. You can establish paternity in one of three ways:
- Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment: If both parents agree to establish paternity, they may sign a form acknowledging paternity and submit it to the Wisconsin Office of Vital Records. Parents can choose to undergo a genetic test to provide evidence of biological paternity before signing the agreement, but they can also pursue this option even if it is unclear who the biological father is.
- Court Ruling: If paternity is contested, the father may testify in a court hearing and present the results of a genetic test in order to make the case for paternity and father’s rights. In this case, an attorney who can advise and represent the father is often especially helpful.
- Acknowledgment of Marital Child: This option is available to parents who choose to marry when they already have a shared child. Like the Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment, this option requires both parents to sign a form and file it with the Office of Vital Records.
Contact a Milwaukee, WI Family Law Attorney
Whether you expect a contested legal battle over paternity or simply wish to ensure the process goes according to plan, the attorneys at Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP are committed to assisting you and your family. We know how important it is for many fathers to be involved in their children’s lives, and we offer free family law consultations to help you understand how we can support your legal rights. Contact an experienced Waukesha County paternity lawyer today at 414-271-1440.