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Determining Paternity In Massachusetts

If you are the parent of a child born out of wedlock, the law office of Linda Sternberg, Esquire, can help you seek to establish parental rights, including a determination of paternity, custody, visitation, and parenting plan rights. We can also help you request or modify child support and medical insurance coverage for your child.

If both parents acknowledge the father, the couple can establish paternity at the hospital. Although paternity can be acknowledged at the hospital, until and unless there is a court order granting custody rights to a father, the mother has sole custody of a child born out of wedlock. If there is a question about who the father is, paternity can be established through genetic testing. Once paternity has been established, the court will use child support guidelines to determine what the support should be, and whether the child support is paid by the mother or the father. The court will look at the best interests of the child to determine custody and parenting rights.

If you believe that you are the father of a child but did not sign any papers at the hospital, we can help you establish paternity. If it is determined that you are the father, the court can enter custody, visitation/parenting plan, and support orders in the best interests of the child.

A child in Massachusetts is entitled to financial support and medical insurance from the date of birth. However, if paternity is not established until a later time, the court has discretion as to whether or not past support will be ordered. Once a child support order is established, it cannot be modified retroactively. If you are seeking to establish or modify a child support order, it is important to file a support action with the court as soon as possible.

Children are entitled to financial support until they are emancipated, which usually occurs at age 18, 21, or 23 in Massachusetts, depending on the child’s circumstances and whether the child is in school.

Child support and parenting time are not dependent upon one another. If you are a mother or father who wants parenting time, we can help you petition the court.

For a strong and caring advocate in your paternity matter, contact the office of Watertown family lawyer Linda Sternberg, Esquire.