When a baby is born, there is no question as to who its mother is. The origin is obvious both biologically and legally. In some cases, even a surrogate can claim motherhood simply because the baby came from her.
Fatherhood is more legally nebulous. Without direct DNA testing, it’s not easy to prove biological fatherhood. A married woman’s husband can even sign a birth certificate, regardless of whether the baby came from him.
Men often worry about their rights in family law issues. Modern times are slowly catching up, but men can indeed be treated unfairly in the system. These worries compound when the man is not legally married to his child’s mother.
If you are unmarried and want the full legal rights of fatherhood, you must establish paternity. “Paternity” is the legal word for fatherhood, and it is necessary for both your protection and the child’s.
Even if you have a great relationship with the child’s mother, without paternity, she has much more power than you. In theory, she could suddenly remove the child from your life, and there isn’t much you could do about it.
Here are some rights all legal fathers can enjoy, regardless of whether they are married to their child’s mother.
Legal fatherhood allows you to share your wealth with your kids, even if you are a man of modest means.
Benefits you can share with your children include:
- Several different benefits for children of military members
- Immediate inheritance. (Technically, you can include anyone you want in your will, and you can leave out any family members as well. If you pass without a will, however, your closest family members instantly receive parts of your estate, including your children.)
Receiving Visitation and/or Custody
Courts typically want to keep parents and children together, especially when doing so benefits the child. If you care enough to establish paternity, all can assume that you are a good father who wants what’s best for the kids.
Paternity can allow you to share custody. Generally, custody refers to longer stretches of time. The kids are under your care during this period, and you are completely responsible for them. Even if you have the kids for only one weekend a month, this counts as joint custody.
In lieu of custody, you could also receive visitation rights. This is time you spend with your kids, possibly alone with them, but you must return them by a specified time. Visitation also includes electronic communication like scheduled phone calls, video chats, and so on. These are legally recognized visits, and they cannot be blocked by the other parent.
Paying Child Support
Child support should not be viewed as a burden. In a world that runs on money, child support allows you to stay directly involved in your child’s welfare. Financially, it should not cost much more than it would if you were married to the mother.
Paternity allows you to participate in child support. A stubborn mother cannot block these payments, and she cannot keep the money for herself.
Our firm cares about fathers and their parental rights. If you need help with paternity or have any other legal concerns as a father, reach out to us today by calling (407) 753-4111 or contacting us online.