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In legal terms, paternity simply means establishing who the legal father of a child is.  Most fathers understand the immediate bond that is formed with a child as soon as they are born.  However, this bond and the legal rights that accompany them may not be established right away given certain situations.  For example, if a man is married to a woman for a length of time longer than a 9-month pregnancy then it is assumed that he is the father of the child.  In these situations, no further actions need to take place in order to establish paternity in the eyes of the law.  The same cannot be said if the parents are not married as steps need to be taken to establish a legal bond between the father and child.

Why paternity is so important

Paternity is important for a variety of reasons.  From the father’s perspective, it means that you have a legal obligation to provide care for the child.  These obligations mean that the father is responsible to help provide financial assistance to ensure that the child has a home, food, clothing and all other materials that are necessary for a happy and healthy life.  These responsibilities also come rights as a parent.  This includes the ability to be part of the decision making when it comes to where the child lives, how they are educated, how their healthcare is addressed and so forth.  Even if the father decides to stay with the mother and perhaps become married in the future, it is important to establish paternity to protect these legal rights.

The benefits of establishing paternity also affect the mother and her child.  In the above example, we proposed a simple situation where the father and mother had their child before they were officially married.  Yet the parents stay together and have a relationship as a single-family unit.  In other cases where the parents split up establishing paternity can provide peace of mind to the mother because it shows that another adult is legally responsible to help provide for the child as they grow.  The child is affected in terms of the relationship they can have with the father because paternity helps lay the foundation for custody, visitation and parental rights.

How to establish paternity in Utah

There are a few ways that paternity can be established in Utah.  The simplest and fastest way is to have both parents sign a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity.  This legal document allows the mother and father to declare that the child is both of theirs.  In some cases, paternity is not so clear because one parent denies paternity.  Either the father claims the child is not theirs, the mother claims the child is not from a certain father, or there could be multiple men who could be the biological father of a child.  Each family is unique and so will the legal actions that need to be taken to establish paternity and how each parent will have a role in the child or children’s life.  If you live in Utah and have concerns with paternity call the legal professionals at Burton Family Attorneys to learn what our staff and attorneys can do for you.

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