According to the American Psychological Association, “about 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the United States divorce.” What’s more, the APA says the divorce rate is even higher for second and subsequent marriages.
Given the rate of divorce, it’s no wonder why so many people decide to never marry, or take their time getting to know each other (sometimes for many years) before tying the knot.
With so many couples delaying or avoiding marriage, more and more children are being born out of wedlock than in previous generations. Partially, because it’s become socially acceptable. This trend has raised legal questions over a father’s rights and responsibilities towards his children and the need to establish paternity.
What it Means to ‘Establish Paternity’
Technically, paternity simply means fatherhood. To “establish paternity” means to determine who a child’s legal father is. In modern-day child custody cases, the gender gap has closed; both mother and father are entitled to enjoy the parent-child relationship; however, fathers have to jump through more hoops to enjoy this relationship.
We like the way Clark County Nevada puts it, “both parents and the child deserve an opportunity to develop, enjoy and grow in this relationship.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves!
Key benefits of establishing paternity:
- The child can know who his or her father is.
- The father’s name goes on the birth certificate.
- The child can be financially supported by both parents.
- The child can know their father’s medical history, so they can know if they have a family history of certain diseases.
- The child can be entitled to Social Security benefits on the father’s work record (does not reduce the father’s benefits).
- The child can enjoy inheritance rights from both parents.
- The child is entitled to health insurance from both parents.
- Most importantly, the child can enjoy a meaningful relationship with his or her father.
How Paternity is Established in Clark County, Nevada
There are two main ways paternity is established when a biological father is not married to the child’s mother: 1) both parents voluntarily acknowledge paternity by signing and notarizing a paternity affidavit and filing it with the State Registrar of Vital Statistics, and 2) through a genetic test and a court order.
If the mother or father are not 100% sure who the child’s father is, they should not sign the paternity affidavit. Instead, either parent can hire a private family law attorney to help them with the paternity and custody action.
Please note: Until paternity is established through a paternity affidavit (signed by both parents) or a court order, the court cannot make orders for child support, child custody or visitation. Once paternity is confirmed, the father can petition the court for custody or visitation. It’s important for mothers to understand this, especially if domestic violence is an issue.
Need a Las Vegas family law attorney to assist you with a paternity action? Contact Leavitt Law Firm to schedule an appointment.