Because only a child's parents have the legal obligation to provide support, a critical first step in every case is determining parentage. The establishment of parentage is required before the case can move forward for the entry of a support order and for the payment of support.
Why Establishing Parentage Is Important
- It creates a legal bond between parent and child.
- Children with parental figures are more likely to stay in school, avoid drugs and crime, and become responsible adults.
- A child's legally established parent may be required to provide financial and/or medical support for the child.
- When a child is born to unwed parents, parentage must be established before both parents' names will be placed on the child's birth certificate.
- The child may be eligible for Social Security benefits if a parent becomes disabled or is deceased.
- The child may be entitled to a share of a deceased parent's life insurance benefits and/or to inherit property from that parent's estate.
- The child will have access to both parents' medical histories.
- The child may be eligible to medical and/or life insurance benefits available through a parent's employment and/or military service.