In modern America, it is not uncommon for children to be born to unmarried parents. Unlike a child born to a married couple, however, a child who is born out of wedlock must have paternity established in order for his or her father to have any legal rights to the child. There are a number of reasons that establishing paternity is important for a child, most of which center on the legal relationship between the child and his or her father.
Legal Reasons to Establish Paternity
A father is not held responsible for a child born to an unmarried mother unless paternity is legally established under South Carolina law. Among the rights that legal paternity gives to a father are rights to custody and parenting time. This not only includes the right of a father to see his child on a regular basis, but also includes the right to make important decisions about the child’s medical care, education, religious upbringing, and extracurricular activities. Furthermore, if a mother establishes paternity for her child, she can ensure that the father shares in the financial needs of the child, which can include the payment of child support. Plus, the father can provide other much-needed support to the child, in terms of child care. Finally, establishing paternity gives the child the right to inherit from the father and/or draw government benefits, such as Social Security, if something should happen to the father.
Legally Establishing Paternity in South Carolina
South Carolina Code Ann. § 63-17-10 through § 63-17-70 governs paternity cases in the state of South Carolina. There are different ways to establish paternity under South Carolina law. First, a father can sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity if he is present at the hospital at the time of the child’s birth. If a father doesn’t sign the Acknowledgement of Paternity form at the hospital, he can sign it after the child’s birth at the South Carolina State Office of Vital Records or a local Vital Records office. These two methods of legally establishing paternity do not require a DNA test, and a father should only use one of these methods if he is absolutely sure that he is the biological father of the child. Finally, a father can seek an administrative or court order that legally establishes paternity. By using this method, a father can request a DNA test in order to make sure that he is the biological father of the child. If there is any doubt as to whether a man is the father of a child, he should definitely undergo DNA testing first.
Contact Elliott Frazier Law Firm, LLC, for Assistance Today
The South Carolina family law attorneys at the Elliott Frazier Law Firm, LLC, are dedicated to providing you with the utmost in legal representation in your paternity or family law proceeding, no matter what your circumstances may be. You will find that we will listen to the details of your situation, answer your questions, and try to calm your concerns and fears. Contact our office today and learn how we can assist you with your South Carolina paternity case.