When a child is born to two married parents in Kansas, there is a legal presumption that those parents are the child’s biological and legal parents. This legal presumption does not exist when an unmarried couple has a child, and only the parent who gave birth to the child has parental rights. Whether you are a single parent who needs support for your child or an unmarried couple who wishes to establish the rights of both parents, a Wichita paternity attorney can help.
Establishing paternity has benefits for both parents and their child. It’s useful to understand the rights and responsibilities that each parent carries with legal and biological parentage, but it is also critical to understand the significant legal and personal benefits for children.
Legal Rights and Responsibilities for Parents
When parents establish paternity, they have equal rights and responsibilities. This includes the right to request child custody if they separate, the right to visitation, and the right and responsibility to pay or receive child support payments to care for their child. They are both able to make legal decisions for a child’s life, including choices for healthcare and education. Both parents also then have the right to have a say in any adoption process involving the child.
Legal Benefits for Children
By establishing paternity, children have the right to receive financial support from each parent, both when parents are together and through child support if they separate. Financial support also includes the right to governmental benefits, the right to review health or life insurance, and the right to inherit. Children also receive access to the medical records of both parents, which can help healthcare providers with family history.
Emotional Benefits for Children
Whether both parents are actively involved in their child’s life or not, there are several emotional and psychological benefits for children when paternity is established. The understanding of their identity can be very beneficial and help them determine how they belong.
When both parents are involved in their child’s life, it can further strengthen a child’s personal and emotional well-being. Meaningful and continued relationships with both parents can help children better their behavior, schooling, and other areas of their lives. Establishing paternity is an important step in committing to a meaningful relationship with your child.
How to Establish Paternity in Wichita
There are two ways to establish paternity: through an acknowledgment or through a petition.
An acknowledgment of paternity is a voluntary document signed by both parents, establishing their parental rights. This document can be found at the hospital or through Kansas Vital Statistics in the state Department of Health and Environment. In some situations, parents should not use an acknowledgment of paternity, such as if:
- The alleged biological parent is not sure that they are the child’s parent.
- The biological parent is separated but not divorced.
- The biological parent was legally married when the child was born or 300 days from the baby’s birth.
In these situations, or when one parent does not want to sign the acknowledgment, the Kansas Child Support Services (CSS) can help parents establish paternity. Both parents can request genetic testing through the CSS with no court action. If both parents are found to be the child’s biological parents, then a petition for paternity declaration can be made with the court.
When one parent wants to establish paternity and the other parent does not, that parent can file a petition with the court to order genetic testing. If both parents are the child’s biological parents, then parental rights are established for both. Even if one parent does not want parental rights, that does not matter.
Q: What Is the Paternity Law in Kansas?
A: To establish paternity in Kansas, unmarried parents can voluntarily sign an acknowledgment of paternity. This will establish the parent who did not give birth to the child as the child’s second legal and biological parent. It’s important to be sure that your family’s unique situation qualifies you for an acknowledgment of paternity.
If one parent does not want to sign this document, or there are other reasons why parents do not sign it, the biological parent or the alleged other biological parent can file a petition with the court to establish paternity. This is established through genetic testing.
Q: Why Is It Important to Determine the Paternity of a Child?
A: Determining paternity provides benefits for both biological parents and their child. Some benefits include:
- Both parents have parental rights and responsibilities.
- The child gains a sense of belonging.
- The child has access to financial support and benefits from both parents.
- Both parents have a right to request custody and visitation.
- The child has access to medical information and family medical history from both parents.
- Both parents have the right to provide or receive child support to care for their child.
Q: Does Signing a Birth Certificate Establish Paternity in Kansas?
A: No, signing the birth certificate does not establish paternity. The only ways to establish paternity are through a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity or through a court petition and order. Once paternity has been established, parents can get another birth certificate with both parents’ names. The name being on the certificate, or their ability to sign it, is the result of established paternity, not the other way around.
Q: Does the Father Have Rights If He Is Not Married in Kansas?
A: When parents are not married, there is no legal parental presumption that a child is theirs. A parent who did not give birth to the child must establish their parental rights by determining paternity.
If the parents do not sign an acknowledgment of paternity or file to establish paternity with the court, then the other parent has no rights to their child. This includes no right to:
- Make decisions for their child.
- Know if the child is placed up for adoption.
- Custody or visitation.
- Give or receive child support.
Navigating Paternity Cases
Paternity determinations cover a lot of unique family situations. If you need compassionate legal support to help you decide your next steps for paternity, adoption, child support, child custody, and other difficult cases, contact Stange Law Firm.