As an active and involved father, you need the legal protections of paternity. Without establishing paternity, you cannot exercise your parental rights or create a child custody agreement that would guarantee access to your child. This is important even if you are on good terms with your child's mother.
Fathers in Massachusetts who maintain amicable relationships with the mother of their children -- either romantically or simply as friends -- often do not feel as if they need to bring paternity into the matter. After all, if their situation is working out, why bring the law into things? While your situation might be working okay for now, there are no protections should the relationship deteriorate or if your ex decides to move out of state with your child.
In order to secure your rights as a parent, you must petition the family law court, asking for a DNA test. After the DNA test is complete and your paternity is confirmed, you can establish a visitation schedule that will ensure you see your child on a regularly scheduled basis. You can also seek custody of your child or challenge an adoption. However, do not forget about child support. Even if you were paying your ex informally, the Massachusetts family law court will probably order the payment of child support, based upon the unique circumstances presented.
Protecting your relationship with your child is one of the most important endeavors you can ever take on. Paternity is the easiest and most secure way to accomplish this. For more information about paternity, child custody and your parental rights, be sure to visit our website for more information.