You and your girlfriend have been getting along really well. In fact, she just gave birth to your first child and you couldn’t be happier about the turn of events. You’re excited about what the future holds for you and your little family.
There’s just one small problem. You’re not married, and in fact, your girlfriend was married earlier to a man she hasn’t seen in years but never divorced. But since he is firmly in her rear window, you have no real worries about the situation, right?
Establishing paternity preserves your rights as a father
The domestic bliss you and your girlfriend are presently enjoying could one day end. Should she decide to end the relationship without your ever having determined officially that you are your baby’s father, it could be much harder for you to seek custody of or even visitation with your child.
Furthermore, since your girlfriend was still legally married to her husband when she gave birth, that man is considered to be the child’s legal father. Not you.
In Ohio, as in many other states, the mother’s husband is considered to be the legal and biological father of the woman’s child(ren). While it is probably not very likely that this man would ever exert any of a father’s rights over the child, he legally could until you could prove paternity.
Establishing paternity bestows rights upon the child as well
If you were to die while your child is still a minor, having established paternity prior to your death enables the child to qualify for Social Security or veterans’ benefits under your name. This could be very important for the child’s economic status as they grow and develop. It also establishes other inheritance rights to your estate.
What you will need to do
The simplest and easiest way to establish paternity is to sign and file an Affidavit of Paternity with the court. In most cases, these forms are available at the hospital and can be signed before the baby and the mother ever leave the premises after the birth.
But if such was not the case when your baby was born, don’t worry. You can still do it now at your convenience and with the mother’s permission. A Butler County family law attorney can facilitate the process and establish paternity for your child.