Why Is a Legal Father Important?

A father kissing his infant.

When a child is born to an unmarried woman, the only legal parent for the child is the mother. A legal father must be determined for the child to obtain the same rights and benefits as a child born during a marriage. When there is no legal father for the child, the Office of Child Support may send a referral to the Prosecuting Attorney's office to establish paternity.

Paternity must be established before the court can issue a child support order to provide the child with medical and financial support from both parents.

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