Parenthood comes with rights and responsibilities. Parents generally have the right to make to make important decisions about how to raise their children, but they also have responsibilities to provide for their children’s needs.
These aspects of parenthood are very personal, but they are also legal in nature. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has an interest in the welfare of Massachusetts children, and when parents fail to provide for their children, the state must provide the children with public benefits. For these reasons, Massachusetts requires non-custodial parents to pay child support in order to help pay for their children’s needs.
When a child is born to a heterosexual married couple, the law assumes that the husband is the father. If the parents separate and the mother becomes the primary custodial parent, the father will likely be ordered to pay child support.
If the parents were never married, they must legally establish paternity. If they agree, they can do this by signing forms with the state. Otherwise, one or both of the parents may have to take legal action to establish paternity.
Either parent may take this action. Sometimes a father hopes to establish paternity so that he may assert visitation rights to spend time with his child. Sometimes a mother must take the action in order to hold the father responsible for child support.
Fatherhood can be a wonderful experience, but establishing paternity can be a difficult matter. It’s important for mothers or fathers to talk to a family law attorney about their rights and options with regard to establishing paternity.