Paternity refers to the legal or biological relationship between a father and his child. Establishing paternity is crucial, as it affects various rights and responsibilities related to the child. When paternity is confirmed, the father obtains parental rights, which may include custody and visitation. At the same time, he also assumes specific responsibilities, one of which is providing child support.

Methods to Establish Paternity

Paternity can be established in various ways. For unwed parents, voluntarily signing an acknowledgment of paternity at the child's birth is common. If there's doubt or disagreement, genetic testing, often through a DNA test, can determine paternity conclusively. Courts can also establish paternity in legal proceedings.

Importance of Establishing Paternity

Establishing paternity benefits both the child and the parents. The child gains access to the father's medical history, potential inheritance rights, and social security or veteran's benefits. Furthermore, the emotional benefit of knowing one’s father and building a relationship cannot be underestimated. For the father, it affirms their legal rights and responsibilities towards the child.

Child Support: A Primary Responsibility

Child support refers to the monetary support provided by a non-custodial parent to the custodial parent for the child's upbringing. The amount is usually determined by state guidelines and considers both parents' incomes, the child's needs, and other factors. It's intended to cover expenses such as food, shelter, education, and healthcare.

The Link Between Paternity and Child Support

Once paternity is established, the father becomes legally obligated to support the child financially. Even if a father does not wish to be involved in the child’s life, he cannot evade this financial responsibility. Child support orders are legally enforceable, and failure to comply can result in various penalties.

Enforcement of Child Support

When a parent neglects their child support obligations, there are mechanisms to enforce payment. Depending on jurisdiction, this can include garnishing wages, intercepting tax refunds, suspending licenses, or even jail time. It’s crucial for parents to understand the serious implications of evading child support.

Modifying Child Support

Life circumstances can change, and child support orders might need modification. A significant change in income, the child's needs, or the custody arrangement could be grounds for adjusting the support amount. To modify child support, parents typically use a family lawyer to petition the court and demonstrate the necessity for the change.


Paternity and child support are deeply interconnected, impacting the lives of both the child and the parents involved. While establishing paternity offers a range of benefits and responsibilities, child support ensures the child's basic needs are met. Both parents have a duty to support their child, and the legal system strives to ensure that this obligation is upheld.