Unwed Parents/Paternity

Paternity is the relationship between a child and his or her biological father. 

Paternity is established in two ways in Massachusetts: 

(1) The first way is through a “voluntary acknowledgment” process where a legal form is signed by both the Mother and Father acknowledging the child’s paternity.  The form must be notarized and each party is informed of the right to seek genetic marker testing this is also known as DNA testing.  Paternity acknowledgements are typically completed at the hospital when the child’s birth certificate is being completed.  Sometimes they are completed by the City clerk in the town or city hall where the child will reside.  

(2) The second way paternity is established is through a court process.  Here, the Mother or the man believing to be the Father files a form with the Family & Probate Court called a “Complaint to Establish Paternity.”   In most cases, the court will order the parties and the child to submit to “genetic marker testing” so the Judge can issue a court order that formally establishes the Child’s paternity.  Also, the child’s birth certificate can be amended to add the Father’s name.  Given that the father will be established, the court will most likely order child support to be paid by the father.  In addition, the court will establish a parenting plan for visitation.  Sometimes, the court may also require the father to provide the child with health insurance.