At the time of a child’s birth to an unmarried mother, paternity must be established either voluntarily or by court order. This requirement redounds to the advantage of the child. The father may consequently be subject to court ordered child support. He might also have health insurance benefits that are available to the child. In addition, the child may be entitled to government benefits if the father is disabled or a veteran, and the child would be entitled to inherit from the father’s estate.

The importance of a father in a child’s life now matters to some men. If the parents are at loggerheads, the father may need a court order for his share of parenting time. He may want joint decision making authority with the mother concerning the child’s health care, education, and religious upbringing among other major issues. Without establishing paternity, none of the preceding would be attainable by him.