New Federal Paternity Laws: Securing More Fathers for Children of Unwed Mothers
Parness, Jeffrey A.
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Public policy demands that American lawmakers, both federal and state, more vigorously promote the early, accurate, informed, and conclusive designations of fathers in law around the time children are born. There is, in particular, an urgent need today to develop legal standards that better promote more birth certificate designations of paternity for children born to unwed mothers. Public policy also demands that where paternity designations do not accurately reflect the requisite genetic ties with children, paternity laws should be more fair and just in allowing paternity disestablishment. This Article reviews the federal mandates within the Social Security Act both on maternal good faith cooperation in naming biological fathers and on voluntary paternity acknowledgments for children born to unwed mothers. It illustrates the nationwide confusion and uncertainties about these mandates. The Article concludes with suggested reforms of both federal and state laws aimed at securing more fathers in law at birth for children born out of wedlock in the United States.