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How to Get Your Child Support


Your Life
How to Get Your Child Support

Raising a child is costly. Get the help you’re entitled to.
(The first story in a continuing series on child support).











Your Life
How to Get Your Child Support

Raising a child is costly. Get the help you’re entitled to!(The first story in a continuing series on child support).

Child support is a right, but often an emotional and legal nightmare. Navigating the murky waters of the court system is difficult to say the least. The Mocha Manual will feature an ongoing series on child support from understanding the legal mumbo gumbo to tracking down assets and pointing you toward resources that work. To get started, we’ll go through the first step of getting child support: establishing paternity.

Step One: Establish paternity
Establishing paternity is a legal way of identifying the father of a child born to unmarried parents. This is important for both the father and the mother, and for your child’s future. If the child’s mother is not married when the child is born, the child does not have a legal father. If you weren’t married to your child’s father when s/he was born, either the father or the mother can take steps to establish paternity. The process may begin at any time, until the child becomes an adult.
Establishing paternity gives a child born outside of marriage the same legal rights as a child born to married parents. Children with legal fathers are entitled to benefits through their fathers that may include Social Security benefits, veteran’s benefits and inheritance rights.

How to Establish Paternity
There are three ways to establish legal paternity:
1. Get married. If the mother and natural father decide to marry before the child is born, the marriage may create what is called a "presumption of paternity." Unless a parent or some other interested party later challenges that presumption, the man will be considered the legal father of the child.

But remember, it is necessary to establish paternity if you plan to get married after the baby is born. Plans may change, so it is important to give a child a legal father from the beginning.

2.  Sign on the dotted line. The process of establishing paternity is easier when the father agrees that he is the legal father. If both parents agree to sign the Voluntary Acknowledgement form or Parentage/Paternity Affidavit, the birth certificate will name the father.

A hospital, midwife, or birthing clinic staff person will help you complete the form, answer questions, and submit the paperwork. Most hospitals, midwives, and birthing clinics can also notarize the form for you. This means that they confirm the form is valid. This form becomes legal once it is notarized and filed at the office of Vital Records or Office of Health Statistics for your state.

If you sign at your child’s birth, you will not need to pay a fee to file the affidavit form. There may be a small fee to later add the father to the child’s birth certificate.

If you do not sign the form when the child is born, you can do it at a later date. You can get the form at the hospital, local health department, child support office, county Registrar of Local Records, County Clerk’s Office, or the state Office of Vital Records.

This option should be used only when both the man and the mot
her are sure that the man is the only possible natural father of the child.

3. Go to court to establish paternity. This is used when the alleged father refuses to voluntarily acknowledge paternity. The process may determine if a man is the legal father of the child.

If the father is given legal papers to appear at a genetic test or in court and he doesn’t show up, paternity may be established by default. Sometimes a parent may want proof that the man is the biological father of the child before he is named the legal father, and either parent may request genetic testing. The court will issue an order establishing paternity. This may require a genetic test. Most tests take a swab in the mouth from the inner cheeks of the child and each parent. It does not hurt, and they do not take blood for paternity tests.

Each state may have different requirements for establishing paternity, and some situations may be more complicated. For example, if the mother was married to another man. If you need help establishing paternity, contact your local child support office.






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