Paternity is the establishment of legal fatherhood for unmarried, noncustodial fathers. Sometimes they want to get involved in their children's lives but first have to prove that they are biological parents. Other times, mothers wish to seek child support from the alleged fathers but also need proof of paternity. However, there are several additional reasons why paternity is important for noncustodial parents to establish.
Mothers, fathers and children all benefit from establishing paternity. For mothers, it establishes a legal relationship with the fathers and makes the fathers legally responsible for their children. It is beneficial to fathers who wish to have their names on their children's birth certificates, to care for their children and to have a relationship with their children. It gives fathers access to their children's medical and school records as well.
Children benefit from establishing paternity because it lets them know their fathers and their fathers' families. It also opens the door for an emotional bond between the fathers and children and for the children to find their sense of identity. The children then become eligible for their fathers' medical, veteran dependent and Social Security benefits, as well as inheritances.
While establishing paternity can be done when children are born, it could also be established through court order. The process of a paternity test under court order involves the comparison of the mother's, father's and child's DNA in a lab. It may not be easy to obtain a court order if one of the parents protests the establishment of paternity. When this is the case, one of the parents could file a petition to establish paternity, open a case with the Office of the Attorney General or consult with a family law attorney.
Source: Texas Attorney General, "Handbook for Noncustodial Parents", accessed on Feb. 16, 2015