Every child deserves to have two parents. In the case of a single mother, however, sometimes the identity of one parent is unknown.
Establishing paternity is a way to name the legal parents of a child, and there are numerous benefits, especially to the child.
Benefits for the child and parents
According to the California Courts, establishing paternity can be advantageous to both parents, but it is most beneficial for the child. There are emotional and psychological advantages to knowing who both parents are, but it is especially advantageous legally. Established paternity allows both parents to contribute to the child’s needs financially, and the child has access to family medical records as well as the health insurance of each parent.
Paternity also makes the child the beneficiary to any life insurance, veteran’s or social security benefits. Without establishing paternity, the mother is not able to request reimbursement for expenses related to pregnancy and birth or ask for child support. For the other parent, paternity allows for visitation or custody requests.
How to determine paternity
There is the assumption that if a couple has a child while married, both are the legal parents. In the case of unmarried couples, or a single mother who knows the identity of the father, the father can voluntarily sign a declaration of paternity.
If parentage is unknown or in dispute, the court will often order a DNA test. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the two most accurate ways to test is via a cheek swab or a blood test from both the child and potential father. These DNA tests determine with 99.9% accuracy who the biological father is.
A mother can also determine paternity while pregnant. The three methods are by testing the DNA found in fetal blood, the amniotic fluid or placenta tissue against the DNA of the potential father.