It is heartbreaking to lose custody of a child. However, this can be avoided by knowing your rights and understanding the process. As your attorney, Evan Koslow will guide you through the paternity action process and prepare you for custody evaluation while looking out for the best interests of you and your children.
Under Maryland law, when a married couple has a baby, both parents are automatically the legal parents of the child. The husband is presumed to be the father unless proven otherwise. The longer a husband waits to contest the paternity of the child, the less likely the court will grant his request to challenge the paternity. Maryland does not have the same rule for unmarried couples.
When unmarried couples have a baby, only the mother is automatically recognized as a legal parent. This means that the father and the baby will miss out on important benefits and obligations of the parent-child relationship unless further action is taken.
Most of the time, unmarried couples choose to sign the Affidavit of Parentage at the hospital or birthing center. An affidavit is a sworn statement, so the mother and father will have to sign it in the presence of official witnesses. The hospital has the necessary forms and staff available to assist you and act as witnesses for your signature. The hospital will also make sure the affidavit gets to Vital Statistics for filing. It’s important to know that you don’t have to sign the affidavit at the hospital if you have reservations or you don’t feel ready. You can sign later if that’s what you want, but know that both parents will have to sign in the presence of a notary public (official licensed with the State of Maryland to witness official signatures), which may require a small fee.
By signing the affidavit, the parents are agreeing that the father is the biological and legal father of the baby. They also agree that the father may have to pay child support and that the child has the right to inherit from the father. Custody rights stay with the mother. By signing the affidavit, the father earns the right to go to court and ask for a new custody and visitation schedule. Finally, they agree that the father’s name should be added to the birth certificate. Unless you can prove some type of fraud or duress, if you sign the affidavit you will be considered the father and have the responsibilities including financial child support obligations.
If you have any doubts about paternity, don’t sign the affidavit because once it’s signed, it’s a legally binding document that’s very hard to overturn. Instead, pursue your right to genetic testing so you can find out if there’s a DNA link between you and the child. You also have the right to talk to a lawyer before you sign anything. If you want to look at a copy of the affidavit, call the Maryland Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, Division of Vital Records, at 410-764-3182, and they will send you one.
“Mr Koslow is very attentive to the needs of his client and professionally very proficient at his job. He ensures the completion of matters at hand and strives for the best outcome for his clients. Easy to communicate with and very honest.”
A paternity action can be brought to court by either parent or by a government lawyer for the local office of the Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA), which usually gets involved because the mother or child has received financial assistance through the State of Maryland. CSEA is interested in paternity cases because its mission is to make sure that biological parents are providing financial support for their children.
Let The Koslow Law Firm see you through this confusing, emotionally charged legal process so that you can put the past behind you and move forward toward a brighter future. Call today to schedule your consultation.