Paternity is important in Montana because it gives both father and child legal rights. Children have a right to be supported by their legal parents, and fathers have certain rights, such as being served notice of various family law procedures.
You may already be the presumed father of your child. That means that the law assumes you are the father, even if you are not married to the mother. If this is not the case, you may be able to establish paternity by other means.
As explained on the official Montana state website, there are several ways you could potentially establish paternity. They include:
- Court adjudication
- DNA testing
- Formally acknowledging paternity
The final option, a voluntary paternity acknowledgment, is something you may have already encountered. Hospital staff members may have presented this form to you when you were a new or expecting parent.
Completing the VPA would have involved you and the mother signing a document in the presence of a notary public and then filing the paperwork with the appropriate institution. If you have done this, you are probably already the legal father.
Fatherhood allows you to provide for your child in significant ways. For example, you could share insurance coverage if your child is otherwise eligible to receive your benefits. If you are a service member or veteran, your child could be eligible to receive VA benefits. There are a variety of similar examples, such as a responsibility to pay child support.
Finally, being a father may give you a better position when negotiating for child visitation or custody. However, please do not think of this article as legal advice. It is meant only to inform you of the general topic.