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Is a Paternity Case Necessary When a Child Is Born Out of Wedlock?


When married people with children split up, the Court enters orders determining custody rights, parenting time, child support and all other issues regarding the children’s well-being. When children are born out of wedlock, the parties and the children are entitled to the same safeguards as their married counterparts. Custody, parenting time and child support orders eliminate the guesswork and misunderstandings in the future.

Thus, a child born out of wedlock is entitled to be supported in the same manner as a child of a married couple. The mother who is raising such a child is entitled to a child support order so that she has straightforward recourse if the father stops paying support. Mothers often are persuaded to forego their rights to support and medical expenses on the basis of untrue allegations. It is unfair to the child to live without adequate support simply because the father threatens groundless litigation.

By the same token, a father of a child born out of wedlock has the same rights to custody and parenting time as would any other father. He also is entitled to know his financial obligation for the child. Unless these matters are addressed through a court order, the father could be sued several years later for thousands of dollars in back child support and medical expenses of which he was unaware. Moreover, several years after the fact it may be difficult to find proof that child support had been paid. That obligation may be so great that the father may never be able to overcome it. Although it may be unpleasant to ask the Court to enter support orders, such orders may avoid problems in the future.

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