You just became a father. You are not married to the baby’s mother, but you feel confident that you will uphold your role in raising the child. Unfortunately, unless you establish paternity, the Louisiana court views you as a stranger to the child.
You have no legal rights to your child as a new father if you are not legally married to the baby’s mother. Mothers hold all rights to determine religion, where your child lives, medical care and more.
The decision to sign the birth certificate immediately after your baby is born is responsible and protective. Multiple reasons for establishing paternity immediately exist for both you and your child.
No medical rights
Not acknowledging paternity at birth causes immense confusion in medical processes. Though you may live with your child and be a father figure, under law, you not considered a legal parent. Even if you exhibit an amicable relationship with your child’s mother, you lack the right to make any medical decisions for your child.
The legal guardian must approve dentist procedures, surgeries and even emergency room visits. Unless you establish paternity, this legal guardian is not you.
No financial decisions
Establishing paternal custody immediately at birth may save you money. Some fathers choose not to sign the birth certificate to try to avoid paying child support. Many dads do not know that acknowledging a child as your own at birth may lower child support payments. If you establish paternity, you can claim your child as a dependent and enjoy tax benefits.
No custodial decisions
If you do not establish paternity at birth, you have no obligation to seeing your child. Louisiana law determines that a mother can avoid all contact with a father and even move across the country without consulting him. Though you may believe you have a solid relationship with your partner or the child’s mother, claiming paternity of the baby now can save you from heartache later.
Signing the birth certificate upon the birth of your child legally gives you rights to a baby’s future. Establishing paternity describes an accountable decision that prepares you and your child. Doing so immediately at birth may save you from heartbreaking court visits and a mandatory paternity test down the road.