Paternity is the process of determining the identity of a child’s biological father. The assumption of paternity generally depends on the marital status of the parents. If they are married when the child is born, the husband is considered the legal father of the child. In case they are not married, it becomes necessary to establish paternity.
Establishing Paternity in Massachusetts
Under Massachusetts law, establishing paternity can be a voluntary or an involuntary process, depending on the circumstances.
Voluntary Establishment of Paternity
If both parents agree that the father is indeed the biological father of the child, they are required to sign a ‘voluntary acknowledgment of parentage’ in the presence of a notary public and file the document with the Registry of Vital Records.
Involuntary Establishment of Paternity
If, on the other hand, the child’s paternity is in dispute, the mother or the father can file a complaint with the court and seek an order of paternity. In such cases, the court usually orders a DNA test to find out if the father is indeed the biological father of the child.
In the event of a dispute regarding the child’s paternity, unmarried parents can opt for mediation rather than battling it out in the court. Apart from the fact that litigation can be expensive and time-consuming, battling out parenting-related issues in open court can irreparably damage the relationship between the two parents.
How Paternity Mediation Can Resolve Parenting Related Issues
Mediation, by its very nature, is forward-focused. Rather than dwelling on the past, parents are encouraged to think about their collective future and come up with solutions that can benefit them as well as their children.
In the presence of a mediator, parents can openly discuss the problems they have with each other, their concerns about the child’s future, and their respective positions with respect to paternity, child custody, child support, and a host of other issues. The mediator will ensure that the discussions remain civil and productive.
One of the biggest advantages of paternal mediation is that it can pave the way for outside-of-the-box solutions for several parenting issues. For instance, a man might be willing to raise the child as his own even if he is not the biological father. In such cases, the issue of paternity can be solved amicably without the need for a DNA test.
Once paternity is established, both parties can discuss their plans for the future, which might include:
- What kind of relationship they intend to have
- How they plan to bring up the child
- How much time each parent gets to spend with the child
- How much should each parent contribute towards child support
- Who gets to make decisions on behalf of the child
The mediator can help the parents work out a plan for the future of their child while taking into account their personal and professional obligations as well as the best interests of their child.
The key thing to be noted here is that the information shared between the parents and the mediator remains confidential. So, parents can discuss personal issues without any inhibitions.
Above all, paternal mediation puts the parents in charge of the whole process. They get to come up with a solution while keeping in mind the best interests of all the parties involved – the parents as well as the child.
Settle Paternity Disputes With a Mediator in Massachusetts
Paternity disputes don’t have to escalate to litigation. Speak to an experienced Massachusetts paternity mediator today. Call our team at (339) 298-7733 or complete our online contact form for a free consultation.