Legal Significance of Paternity

The law considers a child born to a married couple as legitimate. However the mere fact of a person’s name appearing on the birth certificate of the child is not conclusive evidence of paternity. The father is not required to sign the birth certificate. As such the mother can list anyone as the father.

Paternity determination is important for all involved – the father, the mother and the child.

• For a father who claims he is not the father, paternity determination can result in him having to support the child.

• For a father seeking to prove paternity, the procedure is simple. If a child born out of wedlock is being put up for adoption by the mother, the biological father must give consent.

• For a mother, it will help secure financial support and access to the child.

• For a child, it secures the right to support and shelter as well as mental relief knowing who the father is.

Paternity can play an important role in the right to inherit and access to personal information. It enables one to know the likely health risks based on the paternal family as well as right to sue for harm/death of the father causing loss to the child. A child whose paternity is established will have the right to receive benefits and assistance resulting from the death or disability of the father.

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