On behalf of Tasha K. Schaffner of Schaffner Family Law posted in paternity on Thursday, September 21, 2017.
Did you and the mother of your child formally establish that you are the biological father at birth? If not, you have no legal rights to the child under Kentucky law if you and the mother were not married at the time of the birth. Unwed parents do not enjoy the same legal assumption regarding paternity as married couples do.
In order to enjoy all of the rights and responsibilities of fatherhood, you will need to legally establish your paternity. For instance, if the relationship between you and your child’s mother sours and ends, without the legal recognition that you are the biological father, you have no right to custody or visitation. On the other hand, establishing paternity is necessary in order for you to pay child support.
Even if your relationship is strong and you remain together to raise your child, you may not have crucial legal rights when it comes to your child. You may not have the right to be involved in major decisions regarding your child’s medical care or educational issues. You can gain those rights, however, by being legally recognized as the child’s father.
There may be other instances in which not being the legal father of your child could cause issues for you, your child and (perhaps) the mother as well. Under ordinary circumstances, the issue of paternity may not arise until or unless there is also a problem to solve. If that is the case, it would more than likely be in the best interests of everyone involved for you to file a paternity action in a Kentucky court in order to establish your legal rights and responsibilities as a father. It may even be better to do so when you and the mother are getting along in order to avoid any additional, and possibly unnecessary, challenges.