Your romance with your child’s mother had faded before the baby was even born — but you’ve remained cordial or friendly with each other. You both believe having a father in a child’s life is important.
So why haven’t you formally established paternity? It may not have seemed important at the time (or now), but the lack of any formal recognition of your paternity could present serious problems in the future and even put your parent-child relationship at risk. Consider the following situations:
Your co-parent moves on and finds someone who wants to fill your shoes
If your child’s mother eventually gets involved in another serious relationship, she — and her new partner — may find it inconvenient to have you around. You may suddenly find yourself less welcome to visit your child. With no legal ties to your child, you have no way to demand formal visitation or shared custody.
Something happens to you and you’re unable to be there for your child
Tomorrow is promised to no one. You could get into a serious accident and become disabled. You could get sick and die. Most people count on their Social Security benefits to provide dependent children with financial assistance if they die or become incapacitated.
Without formal recognition of your paternity, however, Social Security won’t provide your child anything. That could leave them bereft of the financial support they need to thrive. Plus, your child will also lack all inheritance rights — so none of your assets will go their way if you die.
Maybe you’ve been hesitant to “rock the boat” with your co-parent or her family — but your paternity rights are too important to let this slide.