Your romance with your child’s mother was brief, but you’re on reasonably good terms. You’re grateful that she’s allowing you to be part of your child’s life — and you’re concerned that she’ll get upset if you “rock the boat” and press for formal paternity.

Is paternity really worth the potential hassle and hard feelings? Absolutely. With paternity:

  • You have the right to a formal visitation schedule.
  • You can seek to establish a parenting plan.
  • You can seek shared custody, or if appropriate, full custody.
  • If anything should happen to the mother, you would be able to obtain custody of your child — which would keep them out of foster care or a distant relative’s care.
  • If anything happens to you, your child will have inheritance rights, including the right to survivor’s benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA).
  • If you become disabled, your child could be entitled to benefits as a dependent.
  • You can have your support counted (and obtain any relevant tax benefit).
  • You can possibly claim the child on your taxes.
  • You gain the right to information about your child’s medical history and care and the ability to make decisions about your child’s care.
  • You have the right to information about your child’s education and can make decisions regarding their schooling.

Without paternity, you essentially only have the rights the child’s mother grants you — for as long as she grants them. That’s a lot of uncertainty in the future. Your relationship with your child is precious. Take the necessary steps to preserve it by establishing paternity under Oregon’s laws. An attorney can help you with the process.