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Establishing paternity for unmarried parents

A parent in Massachusetts might want to establish paternity for several reasons. It is important to note that parents have the same legal obligations and rights whether or not they are married. For example, both parents have the right to shared custody or visitation with their children. The parent that has primary physical custody of a child also has the right to receive financial support for the child. Likewise, the parent who does not have primary physical custody has the legal obligation to provide financial and medical support for his or her child.

A blood test, known as genetic marker testing, can establish paternity. A father can challenge a paternity claim by submitting to a DNA test. Similarly, a mother can petition the court to compel a father to submit to a paternity test. The mother may use the results of the paternity test as evidence in court in order to obtain an order for her to receive financial provisions for the child including day care, medical insurance and child support.

A father can also set up a test to establish paternity and then assert his right to visitation or shared custody. Once it has been established through DNA testing that an individual is a child's father, the father can then file a petition in court seeking either shared custody or visitation.

A married father who does not believe that the child he is raising is his may have limited legal options. In a case such as this, it may be advisable to seek legal counsel. To learn more about child custody, visitation and paternity, please visit our page on paternity.

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