FAQ: Father’s Rights
Fathers are entitled to the same parental rights as mothers when it comes to family law matters like child custody, visitation, and child support. Fathers also have a right to participate in how their child is raised including where they go to school, their religious upbringing, and other important aspects of their lives. However, many unmarried and divorced dads must go to court and initiate custody cases for their parental rights to be recognized. Below, we answer common questions that fathers have about their parental rights when facing a potential custody battle.
Question #1: How do unmarried fathers obtain parental rights?
A: Unmarried fathers need to establish paternity before they can enact their parental rights. Both parents can sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form at the birthing center or hospital after their child is born. It can also be signed later on at the Division of Child Support office or health department. Unmarried fathers can also file a “Petition to Establish Parentage” if the paternity of the child is in question or disputed. This will initiate court proceedings to get a judgment on who should be named as the child’s legal and biological father.
Question #2: What if I am not the child’s biological father?
A: Even if an individual is not the biological father of a child, they can still defend their rights as a de-facto parent. Non-biological fathers must prove the following to secure their parental rights:
- They consistently provide care for the child
- The child has lived with them for a significant period of time
- They undertook full responsibility for the child without the expectation of financial compensation.
Question #3: Can a father receive child support?
A: If paternity has been established, then the father can be awarded child support if they are named the custodial parent and are responsible for the costs associated with raising the child. Child support can be used to cover food, housing, clothing, medical care, daycare, and education expenses.
If you have questions about parental rights, please reach out to McKinley Irvin’s legal team. Call or request a consultation online to discuss your situation.