When unmarried parents in Alaska have a child, it is important to consider a paternity test. Establishing legal paternity is a harder barrier for unmarried couples, because, for married parents, the legal paternity is automatically established.
Paternity and the law
Paternity is not just a matter of emotional security. A lot of important rights and connections flow from paternity. For example, health insurance coverage cannot pass from a father’s plan to his children without proof of paternity. Likewise, the children won’t be entitled to life insurance benefits or inheritance without being legally proven to be his children. The father also can’t make decisions for the child, even for their own welfare. In case there are relationship issues down the road, paternity is also important for the mother to be able to file for child support, so paternity involves both rights and responsibilities. When a married couple has a child, all of this happens automatically and the father’s name is placed on the birth certificate. For an unmarried couple, this can only happen with additional legal paperwork, which includes an acknowledgement of parentage.
Other paternity aspects
Aside from the legal complexity of paternity, there are important health benefits to understanding both sides of the family tree. Genetic disorders and vulnerabilities to certain conditions can be managed and addressed well in advance if the child and their doctors are aware of them. Having confirmed paternity also provides emotional connections and access to a broader family, or at least to the comfort of knowing who that family is.
Paternity proof is an additional step that unmarried parents should take when they have a child for legal, medical, and emotional benefits for the child.