Your Rights as an Unmarried Father
As social media profiles have become more commonplace, it has become easier for men to know if they may be a father. But if you are not married to the mother of your child, you could be left with no rights to your child if you don’t take action.
The first step in gaining any rights of your child is to prove to the courts that you are the child’s father. This can be done even before the child is born through a non-invasive prenatal paternity test. If you are not married to the mother of your child, it’s a good idea to establish paternity as soon as possible.
This will grant you rights if the mother wants to put the child up for adoption or if you are interested in establishing custody of the child.
In most cases, the biological father of a child must give his consent in order for a child to be put up for adoption. However, in addition to establishing your paternity, you must also play an active role in the child’s life in order to retain this right.
If the birth mother has not had contact with you for an extended period of time or does not know your whereabouts, your consent may be deemed unnecessary. An attorney can help you fight for your rights to your child if you are worried that the birth mother may misrepresent you.
Even if you are dating the mother of your child or have an amicable relationship with her, it’s important to get a court-ordered custody plan once your child is born. Should issues arise in the future, this order will help you retain your right to see your child.
Infants should spend a great deal of time with both parents and can be transitioned between households frequently. As your child ages, different custody plans will become more appropriate.
Negotiating child support
Some people still hold a bias for the mother to be the custodial figure and gain child support from the father. But, fathers have as much of a right to their child as the mother. An attorney can help you negotiate who should pay child support and for how much.
Who Retains Full Custody of the Children if Both Parents Are Unmarried?
If two married adults have a child, then both parents have equal custodial rights of that child. However, if two unmarried adults have a child, Georgia state law dictates that the mother shall receive all legal custodial rights for that child. Even if the father’s name is on the child’s birth certificate, that does not guarantee that father any legal right to custody.
In this way, state laws definitely favor mothers, which can be a bit unfair to fathers who wish to have a part to play in their children’s lives regardless of their married status.
In hopes of fighting for custody, the father must first establish that he is indeed the genetic father of the children in question. To do so, he must take legal action.
Acting against the law – like abducting a child or forcefully injecting themselves into the child’s lives against the will of the mother – is not the right way to win your case. Please, do not act rashly.
Does an Unwed Father Have to Take Matters to Court?
There is a distinct difference between the legal father of a child and the biological father of a child. Being the biological father of a child may grant a man the right to pursue custodial rights. To prove biological fatherhood, the father must undergo a paternity test. Simply pointing to a birth certificate is not enough. In order to do this, they must prove paternity by either filing a court case or filling out a Legitimation form with the state.
However, even if it can be proven with DNA evidence that a man is the biological father of a child, certain determining factors may prevent that man from obtaining custodial rights to the child. For example, if the father suspected he was the father but did nothing with that information for years, then his attempts to prove paternity now could be considered suspicious by a court of law.
Just the same, though, if a man wishes to be recognized as the legal and biological father of a child, he must go through the necessary legal process.
How Can an Unmarried Father File for Legitimation Action in Georgia?
A father may file a legitimation petition to enter a legal debate about his right to custody of a child. This form should include all information about the father as well as the child’s name, age, gender, and the mother of the child.
The mother, at this point, is given the opportunity to challenge the act of legitimation if she has cause to think the man is not the actual father or if she claims the father gave up his rights as a parent long ago.
What is a VPA and How Can it Help Unwed Parents Establish Paternity?
A Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement (VPA) is a program that helps unwed parents legally and cooperatively establish paternity.
Opting to use a VPA establishes that both parents have an active and healthy role in the child’s life, that each parent’s name is on the birth certificate, and that they both share the legal duties and responsibilities of parenthood.
A VPA can provide many benefits to the mother and child, including child support, children’s healthcare, and Social Security benefits.
As stated in the name, this is a voluntary action. If any parties are not happy with the arrangement, then it can be canceled within 60 days of its creation.
Do Unwed Fathers Pay Child Support in Georgia?
Most unmarried fathers do not provide child support payments for their children, even if they gain custody rights. However, every situation is unique, and a family law court may order that a father provide child support to help raise a child. For example, if they deem that they are a man of considerable financial means and that the mother is not.
Do You Need a Family Law Attorney?
If you are taking these matters to court in order to establish paternity and seek legal custody or visitation rights, we highly recommend you consider retaining professional legal counsel.
Schedule a free consultation with our legal team at 404-418-7777.