Establishing paternity is a legal process that proves a man’s paternal relationship to a child. Once a father establishes his paternity with the help of a knowledgeable child custody attorney, the courts will recognize the relationship he has with his child and allow him to exercise his legal rights and responsibilities. If you are a father and want to protect the bond you have with your child, consider reaching out to a Maryland paternity lawyer for assistance with your legal endeavors.

Understanding Paternity in Maryland

Establishing paternity provides many benefits for children in Maryland. Kids with legal fathers have the right to create a relationship with them through custody or visitation arrangements, can inherit assets from them, and have the right to receive financial support from them.

A father will need to establish his paternity with a Maryland attorney’s help if he was not married to the child’s mother at the time of birth. In Maryland, the law assumes that a mother’s spouse is the legal and biological father of any child born during the marriage.

The presumption of fatherhood for married men is so strong that a court might not disrupt this relationship even in the face of evidence like a DNA test proving that another man is the biological father. Unless a judge finds that it would be in a child’s best interest to dissolve the relationship with the putative father in favor of the biological father, the court can refuse to change a child’s paternity.

How to Establish Paternity

While the law presumes that a married man is the father of his wife’s child, unmarried fathers must take additional steps to establish their paternity. These steps depend on whether both parents agree on the identity of their child’s father.

When parents agree, they can sign an Affidavit of Parentage and file it with the State. They may sign this affidavit at the hospital during a child’s birth or can agree to sign it at a later time. If the parents change their mind about who the father is, they can rescind the Affidavit within 60 days.

If the parents do not agree about paternity, or if a father refuses to sign an Affidavit of Parentage, a family law court may need to get involved and order the father to submit a DNA test. The courts may declare with test results of at least 97.3 percent certainty that a man is a child’s father, according to Maryland Code, Family Law §5-1029.

Contesting Paternity in Maryland

It can be difficult to contest paternity if the parents were married or signed an Affidavit of Parentage. Maryland law believes that once a parent and child have fostered a relationship for a certain amount of time, it is better to leave it standing even if a man is not his child’s biological father.

For that reason, it is important for parents to avoid signing an Affidavit of Parentage unless they are certain of the man’s paternity. If a parent doubts their paternity, obtaining a DNA test and waiting for the results can prevent many future problems. In cases where it is difficult to contest alleged fatherhood, consulting a skilled paternity lawyer in Maryland would offer the best chances of success.

Get Help from a Maryland Paternity Attorney Today

If you want to protect your rights as a father, establishing paternity is the first step. Working with an attorney can help you prove your biological relationship with your child and seek custody or visitation time. Waiting to establish your paternity can have disastrous consequences. Do not put off creating a relationship with your child. Contact a Maryland paternity lawyer and get started today.