Unwed fathers can seek child custody and child visitation, especially if they are the biological father. There are specific ways to gain custody or parental rights, and the law decides according to the best interests of the child. So, if you are an unmarried father, then what do you do to get fathers rights in Oklahoma?
The first thing an unmarried father has to do is to establish his paternity. Without this, he cannot legally have paternity rights such as visitation, custody (sole or shared) and whether he can make decisions about the child’s welfare.
Paternity is established if the unmarried father’s name is on the birth certificate of the baby. Being present at the hospital at the time of birth and helping to fill out birth certificate forms with the mother is the easiest way to establish the paternity. Or else, an unmarried father in the US can fill out Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form.
What if paternity is contested?
Sometimes, the mother can contest the paternity of the father. In this case, the father can contact the Child Support Enforcement Division or the relevant government agency or he can petition the court. The unmarried father might have to take the paternity test to establish his status as father.
If there is a paternity registry, the father should try to get on it as soon as possible, maybe even when he hears of the pregnancy, so that getting his rights become easier.
Once paternity is established, the unmarried father can take the steps to determine custody status. An unmarried man who has been legally declared as father of the child, has same rights for custody as any married father.
If you are an unmarried father and living and raising the child together with the mother, then custody is usually not an issue. But, if you are living separately, then you would have to petition the courts to establish your custody rights.
How do courts grant custody?
The laws are different in every state, but generally custody is granted depending on the child’s best interests. Usually, the mother is granted custody, unless she is found to be an unfit parent. Unmarried fathers should get the help of an attorney to present their case in a strong way so that they get the joint or sole custody rights they want.
If possible, an unmarried father should make an effort to work out a parenting plan which clearly defines the responsibilities and roles. When the courts see an amicable relationship between the parents, then the unmarried father has a better chance of getting his rights.
Child support payments
When living together, it is customary to share the expenses of the family. But if the unmarried father separates from the family unit, then he has to pay child support as a legal obligation. Not paying might result in prison time, unless parental rights are terminated.
Not being married makes it complicated for unwed fathers to get the parental rights naturally. With good legal representation, you can be part of your child’s life legally!
Article Submitted By Community Writer