Unmarried men may associate establishing paternity with child support. However, child support is only one of the benefits their children may receive when they become legal fathers by legitimizing the relationship through the state’s paternity process.

Here are some of the reasons an unmarried father should consider establishing paternity, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare.

Parental rights

When a father establishes paternity, he becomes eligible for custody and visitation rights. He and the mother can then create a parenting plan so that he can develop and maintain a parent-child relationship with his son or daughter. No one can put his child up for adoption or relocate him or her to another state or another country without his input.

Health benefits

When children know both of their parents, they gain a complete picture of their family medical history. Knowledge of issues such as heart disease, diabetes and genetic disorders may make the difference between taking early preventative measures and needing more aggressive forms of treatment.

A legal father may also add his child to his employer-sponsored health insurance plan.

Social Security

When a father with a disability receives Social Security benefits, his daughter or son receives as much as 50% of the disability benefit amount, depending on how many family members the disabled person has who qualify for family benefits. Children may also receive survivor benefits if a father dies while they are minors.

Inheritance

When a father dies, his children are in line to receive any assets that he did not otherwise designate for other beneficiaries in a will. He may also include them as beneficiaries of the will, of life insurance policies and of trusts.

Developmental benefits

A healthy parent-child bond can provide children with emotional security that contributes to their cognitive and social development. By having a father who involves himself in their lives, they gain self-confidence and a sense of well-being that serves them throughout childhood and into adulthood.