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Reasons and ways to establish paternity in Maryland

There are several reasons why a father may need or desire to claim a child as his own. Conversely, there are also reasons to contest paternity if one questions that a child is his own. In Maryland, there are ways to establish or refute the biological parentage of a child.

There are good reasons for a father to claim a child if the parents were not married at the time of the child's birth. Some of those reasons include ensuring that the child is eligible for benefits through the father such as life insurance, veteran's benefits and Social Security. In addition, if a child is born with a medical issue or becomes ill later on, knowing the medical history of both parents can prove to be invaluable. In the event the parents do not remain together, then the child's mother can receive child support payments more easily if the father is known and legally established.

In Maryland, it is relatively simple for a father to claim his child. It can be done through signing an official affidavit at the hospital at the time or shortly after the baby is born and prior to discharge. Otherwise, the parents can still sign the official document in the presence of a notary and send it the Division of Vital records located in Baltimore. The parents can sign separately if need be, and if under the age of majority, the father does not need parental consent, though parental input may be considered.

If a man questions whether he is actually the father of a child, he can request genetic testing and can refuse to sign an affidavit. Furthermore, if he signed one under duress or false circumstances, he can rescind the document within a two month timeframe or petition a Maryland family court to vacate the affidavit beyond that period. Any parent who is having difficulty either establishing paternity or refuting that a named father is correct, may seek the guidance of an attorney. 

Source: dhr.maryland,gov, "Paternity Establishment", Accessed on Jan. 27, 2017

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