Stepping Up To The Plate? When Do Unmarried Men Claim Paternity Of A Child?
According to a 2013 statistics, in the United States, around 40.6 percent of babies are born to unmarried women. Tacking the issue of parental rights, a paper investigates from a historical perspective when unmarried men claim paternity of a child. Are there any other factors that affect the decision of unmarried men to step up to the plate for potentially their offspring?
The paper, done by sole researcher Kermyt Anderson of the University of Oklahoma, investigates when unmarried men acknowledge paternity of a child. It also investigates how the establishment of paternity affects both the future of the mother and child.
According to Anderson's hypothesis, a number of factors affect the decision of unmarried men if and when they claim paternity of the child. In fact, the legal establishment of paternity of the child before birth or during the mother's pregnancy increases the likelihood of the offspring being born.
In the US, the establishment of paternity rights occurs at the birth of the child. Usually, the husband of the married woman is automatically indicated as the legal father of the child on the birth certificate unless stated otherwise. However, there are growing number of cases of children born out of wedlock and legal rights of the father should be established by having the man sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity form to guarantee his paternal rights over the child.
The paper, published in the journal Human Nature, exposes the darker side of paternal rights. According to the researcher, based on the analysis of the data collected from 5.4 million births that occurred from 2009 to 2013 in the United States from the National Center for Health Statistics, unmarried men are most likely to claim the child as theirs If the mothers have a high socio-economic status.
Unmarried men are also most likely to establish themselves as the legal father of the baby if the baby born is male and the baby's mother is not a teenager and has private health insurance. In fact, unmarried men are most likely to voluntarily acknowledge fatherhood if the baby's mother is at least college educated, healthy and had a healthy pregnancy.
Moreover, legal paternity affects the likelihood of the child to be born healthy and to be breastfed upon birth. It even affects how the mother takes care of both herself and her child. The paper was also able to determine that the mothers adjust their investment to their child based on the expected investment of the child's legal father.