Vacanti | Shattuck | Finocchiaro Attorneys

Do Unmarried Fathers Need To Take Additional Steps To Establish Parentage?

If you and the mother are together at the time of the birth and you have a good relationship with that mother, you will be asked at the hospital, presuming you are there to witness the birth of your child, to acknowledge paternity. The mother would say that you are the father and as the father, you would acknowledge that you are the father, and you’d sign a form called an acknowledgement of paternity. That form is then filed with the Department of Health and Human Services and that, in and of itself, establishes you as the father of that child.

If a mother is pregnant and you and the mother don’t have a relationship with each other, when you find out that the child is born, you need to go to the Department of Health and Human Services. There are forms that you complete to indicate that you believe you are the biological father of that child and that you wish to establish your parental rights. Then, paternity is established either by the mother acknowledging that you are the father or by having genetic testing done to demonstrate that you are the biological father of that child.

Absent A Custody Order, Does The Mother Decide If A Father Can See Her Children?

If a father has acknowledged paternity, our court system would recognize him as being the biological father of that child. The mother is considered the custodian by being the natural mother of that child. As long as we have both parents and there is no dispute, both parents have equal rights as it relates to a child and the mother is unable to refuse to allow the father time with the child, legally. As long as the father has acknowledged paternity, the father has the same rights as the mother does and can determine, just like the mother does, how much time he wants to spend with the child. As you can imagine, that turns into a tug of war at times. Those are the instances where lawyers need to get involved to help figure out how to divide up parenting time. If that isn’t enough, we go to court, have a hearing, and the judge will determine what the parenting time for each parent will be.

Does An Unmarried Father Have To Pay Child Support Even If He Doesn’t Want To Be Involved In The Child’s Life?

There are two things that come along with having children. There are rights and there are responsibilities. The rights are that you get to enjoy having a child and the benefits of that relationship. What comes along with that is responsibilities. Those responsibilities fall into different categories, one of which is financial responsibility for the child. Even if a father says he doesn’t want to have anything to do with the child, that father is still going to have a duty to support the child financially.

If I Was Not Listed On The Birth Certificate And Want To Establish A Relationship With My Child, What Do I Do?

If the father and the mother are not together at the time of the birth, the father would go to the Department of Health and Human Services and complete a form, where he indicates that he believes he is the biological father of this child. The father can also contact a lawyer, who can file a lawsuit against the mother to establish that he is the biological father. Paternity can be established by the mother admitting that the father is the biological father or by the father forcing the mother, the child, and himself to submit to genetic testing to show that he is the biological father. You either need an acknowledgement of paternity form signed at the hospital, an acknowledgement or statement signed at the Department of Health and Human Services, or a court order that says, after genetic testing is done, that you are the biological father of that child.

If I Am Not Married To The Mother Of My Child, Do I Have Any Say If Her Husband Wants To Adopt The Child?

If the biological mother is married and her husband wants to adopt the father’s child, they will need the consent of the biological father to proceed with the adoption, as long as the biological father is participating in the child’s life. In cases where the biological father is not participating in the child’s life, they can proceed with the adoption and claim that the biological father has abandoned the child. If the biological father is having parenting time with the minor child or even just providing support for the minor child, then it would be very difficult to proceed with an adoption. You would need to consent to the adoption and relinquish your parental rights in order for it to proceed.

Should I Consult An Attorney If I Am Unmarried And The Father Of A Child?

We would suggest that you consult an attorney any time there is a legal matter that involves children. Whether it be your rights relating to the child or your responsibilities relating to the child, it can’t hurt to consult with a lawyer to make sure that you understand how the law works, how it relates to that child, or what your rights and responsibilities are. The facts of every case are unique, so it’s very important to spend the time to find a lawyer you are comfortable with and educate yourself on the law and how it may affect you.

For more information on Establishing Parentage For An Unwed Father, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (402) 235-6070 today.

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