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Your paternity rights: The right to your child in Massachusetts

Paternity is an important factor in raising a child. To the courts, it makes the difference between visitation and custody rights along with the child support payments you'd need to make. Establishing paternity is vital, because without it, you have few rights as a parent.

Paternity has to be established if you weren't married at the time of your child's birth. You may also choose to seek a paternity test if you were and are unsure that the child is yours. You can establish your paternity in one of two ways. Either seek a court order or sign a voluntary acknowledgement of being the child's father.

Once you sign a paternity form, you have granted your child specific rights. For instance, your child receives the right to inheritance. He or she can also have access to your life insurance and medical benefits according to the law in Massachusetts. Of course, your child will also have a chance to have a relationship with you and will know both parents.

If you're not convinced you're the parent of a child, you don't need to sign over your paternity voluntarily. In fact, you can opt for testing to be done to prove you're the father. DNA testing is the most common form, and it can typically be done through a blood test or mouth swab. By looking at the DNA, the results will clearly show if you are responsible for the child or not.

If you're in a situation where you're not sure what to do about your paternity rights, you need to understand all the legal implications. Don't sign paperwork you aren't sure about.

Source: Mass.Gov, "Paternity Establishment" Sep. 26, 2014

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