When you establish paternity for a child born to unmarried parents, you are giving that child the benefits of having a legal father, which he or she would not otherwise have. For the mother, it means she will know she has a partner in the rewarding but demanding task of raising a child. If the parents separate and the mother has custody, the father will still be responsible for helping with the child's living expenses and medical care.

Benefits of Legal Fatherhood

For the father, it means he will have parental rights. If the parents separate, he would have the right to seek custody and child support from the mother. If he does not have custody, he can seek visitation rights and will have the right to know the child's whereabouts. He will have legal standing when decisions are made about the child.

For the father who acknowledges paternity, there is also the pride, satisfaction, and self-respect that can only come from doing the right thing, taking care of his own child, and living up to his responsibilities.

For the child, there is the security of having two responsible caregivers, two adults contributing financial support, medical support, and attention. Medical records on the father's side may also be important at some time in the child's life.

A child's parents help form part of the child's identity, too. It is only natural for a child to want to know who both parents are. A child without a legal father may be left to wonder: What is he like? What does he look like? Do I take after him in some ways? It is only natural for a child to look to his or her father for love and a feeling of self-worth.