If you find yourself stuck in this situation, there are some things to consider and help you prepare for your role of child custody and care.
Here are 3 things unwed fathers must know about their rights.
Establish paternity as the father
In the United States, a married couple has the legal presumption that the husband is the father of the child. However, when the child is born out of marriage, there is no legal claim of paternity.
Without the legal affirmation, the father has no legal right to visitations, shared custody, or the ability to make decisions about the child’s welfare.
The easiest way to establish paternity is to ensure that the unwed father’s name is written on the birth certificate and with the mother during the birth of the child. If the mother contests to the father’s paternity claim, he can petition to establish his paternity and take a test to claim his parental status.
Gain Rights in Custody Agreement
Once the unwed father established his legal claim to paternity, he must determine his custody status. All men are legally claimed as the father has the same rights, whether they are married or not.
If the unwed father and mother are raising the child in the same home, custody is not considered an issue. However, if they separate, the father will need to propose a petition to establish his rights to shared custody.
Pay Child Support
Regardless of the custody agreement, fathers have financial responsibility for the child. The only way the father can avoid child support is to give up his paternity rights of seeing his child.
If the parents are raising the child together, the financial support will happen without the court. However, if the parents separate, the child support will become a formal obligation through the court.
Unwed fathers have all the rights and responsibilities of any father. However, it is important to establish those rights legally and take the appropriate steps to meet those obligations.