Establishing paternity has many benefits outside child support, but proof of paternity is required to receive those benefits. Many of the benefits only come into play in the event of the father’s death, therefore you shouldn’t delay establishing legal fatherhood.
Social Security Benefits
Paternity must be established for a child to receive a Social Security benefit if a father dies before the child has attained age 18. Children are generally eligible for Social Security benefits if they are under 18 or under 19 and are enrolled in elementary, intermediate, or secondary school full time.
If a father dies without a will in place, his estate will transfer to his next of kin per the rules in his state of residence. If the father is unmarried, most often his children will be first in line to receive his estate. If paternity of a child is not established, the child may not receive any of their father’s estate, life insurance, pension payments, etc.
Enrollment in Native American Tribe
Children may enroll in a Native American tribe if their Father is also listed on the tribal roll. In addition to the cultural benefits of tribal enrollment, there may be financial benefits such as per capita payments and tuition assistance.
The children of a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces may also be eligible for financial benefits depending on the father’s service. Enrollment in these programs is very difficult if not impossible if legal fatherhood is not established. Examples of these benefits include tuition assistance, health insurance, and Dependency and Indemnity Compensation.
Establishing a Custody and Visitation Schedule
In most states, mothers have sole legal custody until paternity is established. After paternity is established, parents can address custody and visitation under the jurisdiction of a family court. Even parents in an intact relationship can benefit by having an agreement filed with court. This way there is a default schedule in place in the event their relationship dissolves. Addressing these issues in court can also allow parents to avail themselves to family court services such as mediation and parenting classes.