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3 things unmarried fathers must do to have parental rights

On Behalf of | Mar 22, 2023 | Father's Rights |

As an unmarried father, you understand certain responsibilities that come with parenthood. But, like many unmarried fathers, you may not your legal rights, especially if you wish to remain a positive and influential presence in your child’s life.

In your position, you must look at ways as to how to secure custodial and parental rights. Understand, though, that you are not the only unmarried father facing this challenge. In 2021, a total of 40% of all U.S. child births were to unmarried women, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Establish paternity and seek custody

Here are three important things for an unmarried father to do in seeking custody and visitation rights for his child:

  • Establish paternity: Doing so will allow you to secure the legal rights of a father. Once you have accomplished this, you may seek custody of your child, and address and resolve visitation matters. The simplest way to establish paternity is by having your name – the unwed father – on your child’s birth certificate. In certain cases where the mother disputes your fatherhood, you likely must have a paternity test administered.
  • Seek custodial rights: While unmarried parents gain the same protection provided divorced parents on custody and visitation matters, you must understand that fathers seldom obtain sole custody of their children. However, there are times when an unmarried father can get sole custody. You must prove that you have served as the children’s primary caregiver and that their mother was an unfit parent due to situations such as being physical abusive to the child, having substance abuse issues or mental illness.
  • Pay child support: As the father of a child, you are obligated to pay child support. If you fail to pay child support, a judge likely will view as an irresponsible scofflaw. You do not want to do this, especially since you are seeking custody and visitation of your child. The people who no longer have to pay child support or those who give up your parental rights. In your case, you are fighting for your parental rights.

These represent necessary steps to take in continuing to play a role in your child’s life.

Seek insight from an attorney

Maybe your child’s mother has done everything she can to prevent you from being in your child’s life. But you have legal rights, and you have stated your intent and devotion to your child. Seeking the insight from an experienced and empathetic family law attorney is good idea.