Why Father (and Mothers!) Should Establish Paternity

In South Carolina, if a couple is married at the time their child is born, there is a legal presumption that the husband is the father of the child. If a couple is not married at the time of their child’s birth, there is no legal presumption of paternity. A man could be the father of his own child and in the eyes of the law, he has no relation to them whatsoever. The way to get around this is by establishing paternity.

Establishing paternity is the process of legally proving that you are the father of someone, even though you were not married to their mother at the time of their birth. It is not an incredibly complicated process, but it is very important. Establishing paternity has strong benefits not just for the father, but for the mother as well.

For fathers, establishing paternity means establishing the right to be with your child. In South Carolina, parents have a right to be with their children. Until you establish paternity, there are no parental rights whatsoever. After establishing paternity, fathers will be able to request visitation, access medical and school records, and have a say in life decisions regarding their children. While the child’s mother may allow the father to do some of those things already, establishing paternity is the only way to have a legal right to do them in South Carolina.

For mothers, establishing paternity comes with legal rights as well. Mothers cannot ask for child support unless there is a legally acknowledged father. The child’s father establishing paternity is the only way that mothers can legally request financial support from them. It has additional benefits, as well. The father can now share some legal responsibilities in the child’s life, such as taking them to doctor appointments, school events, and helping them sign up for things directly. Establishing paternity means having a legally acknowledged partner in raising your child.

In order to establish paternity in South Carolina, you can either take a paternity test or sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity form. If you are opting for the paperwork route, both parents have to be present and sign the form together. If you are taking a paternity test, you don’t have to wait for the court to order it to get the actual test. Whenever there is doubt over the parentage, we have found the father is almost always correct.

The process for establishing paternity in South Carolina involves filing an action with the court, which you will want an attorney’s help for. If you are establishing your right to custody after paternity, an attorney is necessary as well. If the mother is opposed to the father establishing paternity, it may be more of an uphill battle. At the end of the day, however, there is not much she can do – paternity is a verifiable fact.

Establishing paternity in South Carolina comes with legal rights that benefit both fathers and mothers. There is a time-sensitive push for it, as well. If anything happens to the father, their child cannot inherit anything from them without legal paternity. For help with establishing paternity, contact Cate & Brough today. We look forward to helping you!

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Cate & Brough, P.A.

At Cate & Brough, we all have personal experience with family law and family court. We know more than just what the law says about your issue – we know what you are going through.

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