When people think of the ways paternity affects children, they think of a father’s parenting role. This is certainly a crucial part of fatherhood, but children also lose some additional benefits when they do not have a legal father.

The Massachusetts website explains that when a married couple has a child together, the marriage establishes automatic paternity. The husband then becomes the legal father. For unmarried couples, it might require some additional work to establish paternity. Here are some of the reasons it matters.

Health

If children become ill, it becomes much easier for doctors to diagnose and treat the illness if they know who the child’s father is. This is because they can now tap into both sides of the child’s medical history to get the information they need to proceed.

Finance

Children supported by only one parent become more likely to face poverty. Even when fathers have every intention to support their children, if they pass away and did not establish paternity, the child might not receive anything.

Identity

Children build their identity off that of their parents and society treats them accordingly. When men establish paternity for their children, they are ensuring the child has both a maternal and paternal identity.

Benefits

There are several benefits for parents and children that require established parenthood. For instance, tax benefits for dependents or the right to add children to health insurance plans. Without establishing paternity, only mothers have this right.

Rights

Fathers might lose the right to see their children if they do not establish paternity. This would allow the court to give full custody to the mother. USA Today recommends getting a paternity test in these instances to prove biological relations.

Establishing paternity has benefits for all members of a family in most instances. If the family is dysfunctional or the father is abusive, mothers often choose not to attempt to establish paternity to protect their children.