Establishing Parents' and Children's Rights
If you are seeking child custody, visitation or support with respect to a child born outside of marriage, you will need to file a paternity action. Establishing paternity is a necessary step even if you, the other parent and your child have been living as a family for years.
At Kajko, Weisman & Colasanti, LLP, we help clients protect themselves and their children. Contact us today to schedule a free, confidential consultation with a knowledgeable paternity lawyer. We have offices in Lexington and Andover.
Obtaining Custody and Support Orders for Children of Unmarried Parents
In Massachusetts, if a child's parents were not married at the time of his or her birth, one or both parents can bring a paternity action in order to legally determine who the father is. Once paternity is established, the court can make enforceable child custody and support orders.
If both parents agree to acknowledge paternity, a DNA test is not necessary, but in most cases, at least one party requests DNA testing for the sake of certainty.
Even if paternity is not in dispute, the parents may not agree on the best living and financial arrangements for the child. Any differences over custody, visitation and support are dealt with on the basis of the same legal principles that apply in divorce cases.
Understanding the Importance of Paternity Actions
In Massachusetts, informal agreements about child custody, visitation and support — even if they are in writing — are not enforceable. Filing a paternity action is an important step toward protecting both your child's rights to parental care and support and your rights as a parent.
Once child custody and support orders are issued, they can be modified in response to changed circumstances. Whether you are looking to start the paternity process or modify an existing paternity order, don't hesitate to contact us to speak to a knowledgeable attorney.