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Do Unmarried Fathers Have Custody Rights?

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As an unmarried father, there are certainly some things that you will need to know to protect your rights and relationship with your children. In the United States, there is certainly a shift toward unmarried individuals to have children together. The number of unwed fathers is rapidly growing. In many of these cases, the parents are committed to one another but a father should still know his rights under the law.

If you find yourself as an unwed father, there are things you need to know as you prepare to go through this situation.

Your first step will be to establish paternity. In a married family, it is the assumption that the husband is the father of the household. When a baby is born outside of a married family situation, the father has no legal standing. Therefore, you will need to establish paternity to have a legal standing in regards with:

  • Child visitation
  • Custody
  • Making decisions about the welfare of the child

To establish paternity is to have the unwed father’s name on the birth certificate. This occurs by being with the mother at the hospital during the birth of the baby and helping her fill out the birth certificate and all other applicable forms. If this is not an option, the unwed father can fill out a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form.

If for whatever reason the mother contests the paternity action, the father can contact a governing agency or petition the court for a paternity action. He will need to take a paternity test.

The Benefit of Establishing Paternity

In a custody battle, a father who has not established paternity is at a serious disadvantage. Even after a father established paternity, he will need to work to establish his custodial rights. This will be important in the case that the couple is fighting for custodial rights, because the court will generally start with the presumption that the mother has custody of the child.

If you need assistance with any step of the process, contact The Virga Law Firm, P.A. today to discuss your case!

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We can help you get through this difficult time. Call our firm at (850) 257-7086 or fill out the form below to quickly get in touch with our firm.

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