Paternity/Non-Married Parents

The Court has the authority to establish orders that will provide support for children of unmarried parents.  Likewise, the Court has the power to establish orders of custody and visitation for those parents who are unmarried.

There are two methods by which these types of issues present themselves before the Court – a Complaint to Establish Paternity and a Complaint for Support, Custody and Visitation.

A Complaint to establish Paternity is a case brought to determine the father of the child.  Once paternity has been established, the Court can order child support, custody, visitation, health insurance and any other orders, which would promote the best interests of the child.

A Complaint to Establish Paternity can be brought by either the Mother of the child or the Father.  The Court has the authority to order the mother, child and alleged father to submit to a genetic marker test if the man denies he is the father or there is a question as to who is the father.

A Complaint for Support, Custody and Visitation seeks to establish orders of custody, visitation and child support or any other orders in the child’s best interests in those cases where paternity has already been established.

Parents can acknowledge paternity by completing a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Parentage at any time after the child is born.  Legal fatherhood is established once both parents sign this form.  After 60 days the form is binding as a Judgment of paternity and can only be challenged within one year of the date the parties signed, and only under limited grounds of fraud, duress or material mistake of fact.  A father should not sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Parentage if they have any doubts as to paternity.

Because a Mother has custody of a child born to unmarried parents unless otherwise ordered by the Court, it is important for unmarried fathers to seek the court’s assistance in securing custody and or visitation with the child, even if both parents are living together.

A father can not ask the court to make a decision about custody or visitation unless he has been legally established as the child’s father.

At Fraier & Maillet, we assist clients in establishing paternity so as to establish support, custody and visitation for both unmarried mothers and fathers.

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Call 508-393-3525

State Massachusetts