Father holding sonThis is the next post in a series of articles discussing the importance of establishing paternity in Las Vegas, Nevada. The previous article provided an overview of the topics to be addressed in this series. It also stressed the importance of contacting knowledgeable counsel with experience protecting father’s rights to represent your interests. This article will discuss why it is important to establish paternity as soon as possible after learning that you are the father of a child. For obvious reasons, this process can seem overwhelming. An attorney can help explain the process as well as your parental rights and obligations. If you need assistance, contact my office today to speak with a lawyer.

Under Nevada law, mothers and fathers are generally presumed to have certain equal rights and obligations with respect to their children. These include the right to have physical custody of the child, to access information and make important decisions on the child’s behalf and to financially support the child. These rights apply to married and unmarried parents alike. A man will not be legally considered to be the father of a child, however, unless and until he establishes paternity. This means, that if paternity has not been established, the father will have no ability to enforce any of the rights generally given to parents as described above. The court will only recognize the mother as the legal parent and therefore she will have all parental rights to the child. Even if both parents unofficially acknowledge that a man is the father and informally establish a support or visitation arrangement, the father will have no legal recourse to enforce the arrangement should the relationship break down in the future. Furthermore, without establishing paternity, a father will not have any decision-making authority. Decisions such as healthcare treatments, including consenting to treatment in case of an emergency, or educational and religious decisions will be left solely to the mother.

In some cases, fathers are reluctant to establish paternity because doing so may result in the obligation to pay child support. If, however, a mother elects to file a Complaint to Establish Paternity, which she can do at any time before a child turns 21, the court may award up to four years of back child support. Your obligation to pay support can be established with or without your cooperation. Therefore, it may not be in your best interest to forego your parental rights simply to avoid paying child support.

It is important to understand how decisions early in your child’s life may impact your rights and obligations in the future. My office is dedicated to representing Las Vegas fathers in paternity and custody matters. If you need assistance with a family law matter, contact my office today to speak with an attorney.