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Massachusetts law: Parents and having children out of wedlock

Having children out of wedlock is not uncommon. Of course, if this happens, paternity needs to be established. Maternity is typically assumed, although in some cases, like those with surrogates, even maternity can be challenged.

If you're a father who had a child out of wedlock, you need to take action to be seen as the father of your child in the eyes of the law. You will need to fill out a document called the Stipulation for Voluntary Acknowledgement of Parentage in Massachusetts. This is done if both you and the mother agree that you're the father. If not, then you or the mother will need to file a lawsuit with the court to get DNA evidence that you are, in fact, the father.

If you signed a voluntary acknowledgement form at the hospital during the birth of your child and it was signed by you and the mother, then your child is already legally yours by law. You will be recognized as a father without any further steps being taken.

As a mother, if you want to have a man declared as your child's father but he declines, then you may have to file a Complaint to Establish Paternity case. This complaint requires evidence, like DNA, if the man involved denies paternity.

There is one special instance where you may want to seek additional help. If you're the father of a child, but the mother and another man voluntarily signed as the biological parents at the hospital, then you may need to file a lawsuit to prove you're the father. It can be difficult to do so, but with the right help, you'll get the time with your child that you want to have.

Source: Hampshire Probate, "Answers to common questions for never-married parents" Dec. 04, 2014

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