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What parental rights do unmarried fathers have in CT?

On Behalf of | Oct 18, 2023 | Father's Rights |

When couples who share minor or otherwise dependent children get divorced, they must determine how they’ll manage their shared parental rights and responsibilities. This may mean dividing parenting time, which is the time that the child lives with them, or addressing the decision-making power or legal custody of the child. This simply refers to making decisions on the child’s behalf, such as what medical care they should receive or where they are going to go to school.

Unmarried fathers can also secure these rights. They are still a parent to the child, whether or not they were married to their child’s other parent when the child was born. More and more often, modern couples intentionally have children before getting married. They may have never planned to marry in the first place. None of this necessarily changes a father’s role if they still want to have a right to make decisions for their child and spend time with them, etc. Yet, to formally secure their legal authority, they must take a few specific steps that married fathers generally don’t.

Establishing paternity

The key is to legally establish paternity, which is often assumed for married fathers. Under Connecticut law, hospitals have a form that unmarried fathers can use, which is called an “Acknowledgment of Paternity.” If the father signs this form and fills out all the necessary information at the time of the child’s birth, then his information can be included on the birth certificate. This establishes paternity, even though when parents are not married. Parents will also have to provide photo ID and a notary public will need to be on hand to witness the signing.

If this isn’t done at the time that the child is born, or if there is any dispute over who the father is, then a paternity test can be used. Modern paternity tests rely on DNA testing. This is incredibly accurate and can be used as evidence to resolve a dispute. A father who wants more involvement in their child’s life may need to use a paternity test to prove that they actually do deserve it before those rights will be honored. Additionally, establishing paternity may open them up to certain obligations, such as paying child support.

Taking the proper steps

It’s very important to know how this process works, both for the future of the parents and any affected children. Those involved need to carefully consider their legal options and to seek legal guidance accordingly to better ensure that their rights and interests are adequately protected.