For unwed fathers, paternity is established by signing a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity or seeking a Court Order to establish paternity. Establishing paternity is essential to protect your rights when it comes to custody and child support. However, before you sign any voluntary acknowledgement of paternity, it is essential that you seek DNA testing through the Massachusetts Department of Revenue. In too many instances, only those who have doubts relative to the biology of the child or children involved seek to establish paternity through Court DNA testing, but it should be done no matter what the case.
For fathers who voluntarily acknowledge parentage of a child, you are accepting a wide variety of rights and responsibilities for the rest of your child’s life – even if you later discover that the child is not yours. This may sound impossible, but it is incredibly difficult to vacate or rescind an acknowledgement of paternity, so even in case where the individual can show that they are definitely not the child’s father, the Court may keep the support order in place because doing so is in the best of the child.
This is why it is so important to understand all of your rights and responsibilities before acknowledging paternity. After sixty days have passed since signing the Acknowledgement, the document is as binding as a court order establishing paternity. However, parents do have one year to challenge the Acknowledgement, but only under very limited grounds of duress, fraud or material mistake of fact.
Our attorneys are well-versed in all paternity issues and can help both mothers and fathers navigate the difficult and emotional legal process relative to paternity actions. Contact our office at 978-263-4160 for a free initial consultation.