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Paternity in Maryland

Frequently Asked Questions about Paternity in Maryland

Paternity in Maryland - Free Legal Advice by Email Establishing paternity in Maryland isn’t as easy as you might think. These frequently asked questions explain the legal rules involved.

Paternity means fatherhood.

Establishing paternity is the process of determining the legal father of a child. When parents are married, paternity is automatically established in most cases. If parents are unmarried, paternity establishment is not automatic and the process should be started by both parents as soon as possible for the benefit of the child.

What is Paternity in Maryland?

Paternity means fatherhood. Establishing paternity is the process of determining the legal father of a child. When parents are married, in most cases, paternity is established without legal action. If parents are unmarried, paternity establishment requires a court order. The process should be started by both parents as soon as possible for the benefit of the child.

How You Can Benefit From Paternity Establishment

Until paternity is established, the father does not have the legal rights or responsibilities of a parent. Establishing paternity is necessary before custody, visitation and child support can be ordered by the court. (Note: custody and visitation issues are handled separately from child support.) A permanent child support order cannot be established for a child until either the alleged father admits paternity or it is proven that he is the father. If the man will not admit that he is the father, blood tests will be ordered from the mother, child and alleged father.

How Your Child Benefits From Paternity Establishment

Establishing paternity is an important first step in obtaining child support. In addition to providing the basis for obtaining support from the noncustodial parent, establishing paternity gives a child born to unmarried parents the legal rights and privileges of a child born within a marriage. Those rights and privileges may include:

  • support from both parents
  • legal documentation of who his or her parents are
  • access to family medical records (Many diseases, illnesses, birth defects and other health problems are passed to children by their parents.)
  • medical and life insurance coverage from either parent, if available
  • inheritance rights
  • Social Security and veterans’ benefits, if available
  • the emotional benefits of knowing who both parents are
What Information is Needed to Establish Paternity in Maryland When the Alleged Father Does Not Cooperate
  • facts about the relationship, the pregnancy and the child’s birth;
  • whether or not the alleged father ever provided any money for the child;
  • whether or not the alleged father ever admitted in any way that the child was his (for example: through letters or gifts);
  • a picture of the alleged father with the child, if available;
  • any information from others who can verify the mother and alleged father’s relationship;
  • the alleged father’s home address
  • his home or business address
  • whether or not the child was conceived in Maryland, and if the child ever lived in Maryland
What if he denies he is the father, or says he’s not sure?

Paternity may be determined after blood tests are given to the mother, child and the alleged father. Test results are available in approximately four to eight weeks. The tests exclude men who are not the father and indicate the likelihood of paternity of a man who is not excluded. Blood tests are very reliable, which is why so few paternity cases go to trial.

Is there an age limit for the blood tests to be done on a child?

No. Children of any age may be tested, although some laboratories will not take blood from an infant younger than six months of age.

Despite the blood tests, the alleged father still says he is not the father. Will the case be closed?

No. If the blood tests show that it is likely that he is the father, the matter will be set for a hearing or trial and paternity will be decided. If the issue of paternity is to be tried, then the CSA will have to do additional investigation to prepare for the trial. Once the CSA believes that it is prepared for trial, it will request that the court set the date for trial. This process could take from a few weeks to more than a year, depending on the circumstances.

What happens if the father leaves the state before paternity is established?

If the alleged father is found and served a formal complaint, the local court will make a decision on the paternity question. At the same time, a court order to pay child support may be issued. This order can be enforced by any state. However, enforcement may take longer when the non-custodial parent lives outside Maryland.

Why should paternity in Maryland be established if the father has no money to support the child?

When the father starts working, he will be able to support the child. Establishing paternity as soon as possible will make collecting child support easier later on.

What happens after paternity in Maryland is established?

Once paternity is established, the CSA will establish a support order, in most cases.

Can paperwork be filed to establish paternity in Maryland while the mother is pregnant, before the child is born?

Yes. The paperwork may be filed during the pregnancy. If the alleged father denies paternity, paternity can be determined by blood tests after the child is born. Arrangements for the blood test can be made with your doctor, or blood tests can be done through the CSA.