A Maryland paternity lawyer values the important rights and responsibilities associated with fatherhood. However, we also know that fathers are sometimes incorrectly identified. At James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates, we guide both mothers and fathers through paternity claims — delivering legal services that are equally compassionate and aggressive.
Why Should I Establish Paternity?
When you establish your child’s paternity, there are multiple benefits. Children need emotional support and guidance from both of their parents. Additionally, a paternity claim might give your child:
- The right to child support;
- Eligibility for state and federal benefits, including Social Security and VA benefits;
- Employment-based health insurance benefits;
- Inheritance rights;
- Eligibility for life insurance benefits;
- Information about his or her family medical history;
- A stronger sense of identity and security.
At James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates, we know that most men want to actively parent and nurture their children. As a father, a paternity claim gives you:
- Child custody and visitation rights, including the rights to:
- Spend time with your child;
- Make important decisions (including decisions about medical care, education, and religion) for your child;
- Access to your child’s school and medical information;
- The right to object to the adoption of your child.
More importantly, it ensures and protects your relationship with your child. Contact us for more information about how a paternity claim can protect both you and your child’s best interests.
How Do I Establish Paternity?
Both mothers and fathers file paternity actions. Our paternity lawyers can help you understand Maryland’s complicated paternity laws. While nothing compares with personalized advice from an experienced paternity lawyer, there are some common rules in Maryland’s paternity claims. Learn more about these rules below.
Married Couples and Paternity
During a marriage, a woman’s husband is presumed to be the father of her children. However, sometimes paternity becomes an issue during a divorce or because of infidelity. In these cases, contact a Maryland paternity lawyer for help disputing or obtaining paternity rights.
Problematically, Maryland’s paternity laws predate same-sex marriage and only discuss husband-and-wife relationships. If you are an LGBT couple, it’s important that you legally establish your parental rights. A paternity lawyer can guide you through this process, which might involve a second-parent adoption.
Unmarried Couples and Paternity
Unmarried fathers do not automatically get parental rights. Instead, you must either:
- Sign and file an Affidavit of Parenthood with the state;
- Marry your partner after the child’s birth and acknowledge your paternity (either orally or in writing);
- Undergo a DNA test that establishes your paternity and get a court order.
Before you legally acknowledge paternity, it’s typically in your best interests to consult with a paternity lawyer. Once you establish paternity, you become legally responsible for the child’s care and welfare. If you need help understanding Maryland’s paternity laws, contact us for a free and confidential evaluation.
Sometimes, the Maryland Child Support Administration will become involved in a paternity case involving unmarried partners. If the mother of a child identifies you as the father, the Child Support Administration can file a complaint against you and get a court order requiring genetic testing. If you have been served with a Child Support Administration complaint, contact a paternity lawyer immediately. Without assistance from an experienced attorney, you might make costly mistakes and face criminal or civil penalties.
What If There’s a Dispute About Paternity?
Sometimes, there are questions about your child’s paternity. In these cases, you should never sign an Affidavit of Parenthood until a genetic test confirms your biological connection to the child. However, if you discover information that puts your paternity in question later on, you should contact a paternity lawyer immediately. Depending on your circumstances your lawyer might:
- Rescind or cancel your Affidavit of Parenthood (if it was signed within the last 60 days);
- File a petition with the courts, asking them to:
- Rescind your Affidavit of Parenthood;
- Discontinue child support;
- Disestablish paternity.
It’s important that you act quickly. Maryland courts are highly skeptical of petitions that are filed years after a child’s birth. In these circumstances, you’ll typically have to show there was fraud, duress, or a significant mistake of fact.
If you incorrectly signed an Affidavit of Parenthood based on your partner’s misrepresentations, you are a victim of paternity fraud. While Maryland does not impose criminal or civil penalties for paternity fraud, you can ask the court to stop your obligation to pay child support. Maryland’s paternity fraud laws require careful, factual, and legal analysis. Therefore, if you believe you are a victim of paternity fraud, contact us for more information.
Discuss Your Case With a Baltimore Paternity Lawyer
Without help from a paternity lawyer, you might feel overwhelmed by a paternity claim or dispute. At James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates, our attorneys work with mothers and fathers, ensuring their rights are protected. Contact us for more information about Maryland’s paternity laws and a free evaluation.