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Establishing paternity important for child support

Child support can be a crucial resource for ensuring that children are healthy, happy and provided for following a divorce or separation. Establishing paternity is often an important step for Virginia parents seeking child support, and it offers many benefits for the children involved.

According to the Virginia Department of Social Services, custodial parents should establish the paternity of their children for several reasons. For one, the father must be identified legally before he can be required to provide child support. Paternity not only formalizes the relationship between father and child but also ensures that children receive inheritance rights to their father's property or benefits, such as life insurance and Social Security.

More importantly, establishing paternity has benefits for children’s mental and physical health. For instance, knowledge about the paternal medical history can help children and their physicians identify risks for and genetic tendencies toward certain diseases or conditions. Furthermore, children who receive support from both parents tend to have a stronger sense of family identity, personal security and self-esteem.

Before progress can be made on obtaining child support, the named father must be located, notified of the application for child support and given an opportunity to appeal. The Division of Child Support Enforcement has many resources available to find and contact a person who has been named as a father. If the person identified as the father questions or refuses to accept the claim of paternity, he may consent or be legally compelled to take a genetic test that uses samples from both parents and the child to determine paternity.

If the man accepts the paternity claim, he can sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity. The Virginia Paternity Establishment Program states that this form is a simple method to both establish paternity and ensure that the father’s name appears on the child’s birth certificate. This form is often completed by unmarried parents at the child’s birth. The Acknowledgement of Paternity can be filled out by US citizens and non-citizens alike, as well as by minors without parental permission. It is free of charge; however, signees do need to provide current evidence of identification.


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Alexandria, VA 22314

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