For married fathers, gaining parental rights is simple, the law presumes that any child born in the marriage is the child of both parents. For unmarried fathers, the presumption is not automatic. Unmarried fathers, perhaps contrary to common perception, must take active steps to establish parental rights over their children. This article will explore how unmarried fathers gain their parental rights.
For mothers, it is easy to ascertain the parental relationship because they are present at the birth of the child. For fathers, it can become more complicated. To establish parental rights fathers must acknowledge paternity and demonstrate a commitment to raising the child. Generally, most fathers do this by being present at the birth, signing the birth certificate and participating in the child's life.
It does, however, become more complicated for fathers that are unaware that their child had been born. Typically, you will need to act as quickly as possible to establish both factors. If you fail to act quickly because you were unaware, the court has been known to not consider that determinative. The court has even determined that a father cannot establish parental rights because he took too long – even though he just found out about his child. So it is best to act quickly.
After acknowledging paternity, fathers must demonstrate a commitment to raising the child. This means that you must take them to school, the doctor, soccer, buy them new clothes and food and generally participate in their lives. The court will want evidence to show a sustained and committed relationship. Not every situation is ideal, therefore, the more evidence that you can gather, the better.
If you are trying to establish paternity, then you may want to consult with a lawyer. Filing for an action to compel a paternity test requires a formal action in the court. Speaking to a lawyer before filing your action could help you avoid any pitfalls. The best thing you can do to get your parental rights is to be a parent, the evidence and rules will follow.