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Definition of paternity in Massachusetts

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children & Families has a website that includes information on the rights of unmarried fathers. The site contains a wealth of information directed toward fathers who need information about their rights even when not married to the other of their children.

Some of the information includes material on the following subjects

--Constitutional rights
--States' definitions of 'father'
--Paternity registries
--Alternative means of establishing paternity
--Required information
--Revocation of claim
--Access to information
--Summaries of state laws

    One of the features of the website is a listing of each state's laws related to the rights of unmarried fathers. The Massachusetts statute related to the rights of fathers can be found at Ann. Laws Ch. 209C, § 6. To summarize:

    A man is presumed to be the father of a child if:

    --If he was married to the mother when the child was born or within 300 days after the marriage ended because of divorce, annulment or death
    --If he married or tried to marry the mother and the child was born during the attempted marriage or within 300 days after the marriage ended because of divorce, annulment or death
    --If he married or attempted to marry the child's mother after the child's birth and he agreed to support the child with a written promise; or engaged in any other conduct that could be interpreted as an acknowledgement of paternity
    --If while the child was a minor he jointly with the mother received the child into their home and made it known that the child was their child
    --He acknowledged paternity in a parental responsibility claim and the mother did not object

      There are alternate ways to establish paternity under Massachusetts law, described in Ann. Laws Ch. 209C, §§ 2 and 11; Ann. Laws Ch. 210, § 4A.

      As the number of children born to unmarried mothers in the United States has grown to at least 40 percent every year since 2008, fathers have been challenging the termination of their parental rights when a birth mother gave up a child for adoption. The U.S. Supreme Court has found that the existence of a biological link between a man and his child gives him the ability to establish a "substantial relationship" with that child. This is a significant change, as historically men did not have the same rights as did mothers.

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