Contents

Best Bet

Massachusetts Laws

Massachusetts Regulations

Federal Laws

Forms

Selected Case Law

Web Sources

Print Sources


Best Bet

Paternity Issues: Family Law Advocacy for Low and Moderate Income Litigants links to PDF file , 2d ed., 2008, Chapter 7. Mass. Legal Services
Includes how to establish paternity, how to answer a complaint, and custody and visitation, with checklists and sample forms

Massachusetts Laws

MGL c. 209C Children Born Out of Wedlock
MGL c. 46 Return and Registry of Births, Marriages & Deaths
MGL c. 119A s. 3A Establishment of Paternity; Genetic Marker Tests
MGL c. 190B, s. 2-114 Descent and Distribution: Parent and Child Relationship
MGL c. 209D s. 7-701 Proceeding to Determine Parentage

Massachusetts Regulations

830 CMR 18A.1  
Cooperation by Applicants for and Recipients of Public Assistance with Efforts by the Child Support Enforcement Division of the Department of Revenue to Establish Parentage and Establish, Modify and Enforce Child Support Orders

Federal Laws

42 USC 651 et seq. Child Support and Establishment of Paternity

Forms

Paternity Forms

Selected Case Law

Partanen v. Gallagher , 475 Mass. 632 (2016)
A woman may use the paternity statute, chapter 209C, to establish her own parentage of a child without a biological relationship to that child.
MGL c. 209C should be read in gender-neutral terms.  Chapter 209C, § 1 requires "an allegation that the children were 'born to [two people] who are not married to each other.'" Chapter 209C, § 6 (a)(4) requires an allegation that the presumed parent,  "jointly with the mother, received the child into their home and openly held out the child as their child." In this case, the plaintiff "asserts that the children were born both to her and to Gallagher, because Gallagher's pregnancies and the children's births took place with Partanen's 'full acknowledgment, participation, and consent.' She asserts also, with respect to the "holding out" provision, that she and Gallagher jointly received the children into their home and openly held out the children as theirs." This is sufficient to bring an action for parentage, and the case should not have been dismissed.

Adoption of a Minor , 471 Mass 373 (2015)
Lawful parentage, and its associated rights and responsibilities, are conferred by statute on the consenting spouse of a married couple whose child is conceived by one woman of the marriage, through the use of assisted reproductive technology consented to by both women. (Chapter 46 sec 4B)

Cosgrove v. Hughes , 78 Mass. App. Ct. 739 (2011)
"If a decedent has acknowledged paternity of a person born out of wedlock . . . that person is heir of his father." The child does not have to prove a biological connection

Custody of Zia , 50 Mass. App. Ct. 237 (2000)
Father was entitled to sole legal and physical custody of child born out of wedlock where mother was "deficient and obstructive."

Department of Revenue v. Roe , 29 Mass. App. Ct. 967 (1990)
This case authorizes orders for current and back child support and the provision for health insurance

Department of Revenue v. Ryan R. , 62 Mass. App. Ct. 380 (2004)
A mother could bring a paternity action for child support against a putative father even though she was married to another man at the time of the child's birth and her husband was listed as the child's father on the birth certificate

D.H. v. R.R. , 461 Mass. 756 (2012)
Outlines the history and procedure for a putative father to of a child born to a married woman to bring a paternity action. In this case, the putative father did not know the mother was married when the child was born, and the husband had not "executed an affidavit denying his paternity during the mother's lifetime, and thus the voluntary acknowledgement of parentage [by the putative father] was not effective as a matter of law and lacked the force or effect of a judgment of paternity."

G.E.B. v. S.R.W , 422 Mass. 158 (1996)
A child was not bound by a prior settlement agreement of her mother and father where she was not a party and the mother was not the legal representative of the child. The court therefore affirmed a paternity order brought by the child against the father.

Lowell v. Kowalski , 380 Mass. 663 (1980)
When paternity is conceded, there is no justification for denying the right of a child to inherit from his or her natural father.

O'Connell v. Greenwood , 59 Mass. App. Ct. 147 (2003)
Absent clear provisions in the paternity judgment to the contrary, mother who shared legal custody of a child born out of wedlock is not prohibited from (1) enrolling child in school using last name of mother's husband; (2) insisting that child call mother's husband "daddy;" nor (3) instructing child's school not to release child to father.

Paternity of Cheryl , 434 Mass. 23 (2001)
More than five years after he had voluntarily acknowledged paternity, a man underwent DNA tests which determined that he was not the child's father. He then brought this action to vacate the paternity judgment. The court held that he was still liable to support the child because of the "compelling public interest in the finality of paternity judgments," the clear intent of G.L. c.209C, sec. 11 to limit the ability of a man who voluntarily acknowledges paternity to then challenge it, and the best interests of the child.

Web Sources

  • Child Support (TAFDC) , Mass. Law Reform Institute
    "The TAFDC Child Support rules require all recipients to "cooperate" in identifying and locating the absent father (or mother) of each child."
  • Paternity Establishment, Mass. Dept. of Revenue
    Information about determining the legal father of a child
  • Paternity for Unmarried Parents , Mass. Legal Services
    Information for mothers on deciding to bring a paternity action and the process and forms for doing so
  • Paternity Guide for Unmarried Parents pdf format of Paternity Guide for Unmarried Parents
, Mass. Dept. of Revenue, 2007
    In a question and answer format, includes information about establishing paternity

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Last update: October 19, 2016

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