Not all relationships work out, but sometimes those relationships result in a child. Just because you are not in the other parent’s life does not mean you cannot be involved in your child’s.
Studies show children tend to be better adjusted when they have both parents in their lives. It’s imperative that you know about your parental and custodial rights as a dad.
What your rights are as a father
If you are a biological parent of a child, then you have a legal right to custody or visitation. It is not required that the parents were married when the child was conceived in order to petition for custody.
Courts make decisions that they believe are in the best interest of the child, which generally involves both parents being in the picture. The only exception to this rule is if evidence comes to light showing otherwise, such as domestic violence or other potentially dangerous crimes.
The first step that fathers must take to get visitation or custody rights
To gain visitation or custody rights, a father needs to first establish paternity. Both parents can acknowledge paternity and file the appropriate documents establishing this with the government. Dads can also submit to DNA testing. A father has a right to petition the court for visitation or custody rights once they establish their paternity.
Negotiating a visitation or custody agreement
Some parents are able to successfully negotiate an agreement stating how visitation and custody will proceed between themselves. The court may intervene and decide such matters for them if they can’t.
Courts rarely grant sole custody to an unmarried father of a child who is already being raised by their mother. A father would need to prove that the mother is unfit to be the child’s primary caregiver for this to happen. Dads can do this by showing that the mother has a history of drug problems, domestic violence, criminal activity or neglect.
If you are a father of a child and are trying to gain child custody or visitation rights, then you’ll want to first establish paternity. You may wish to consult with an attorney to guide you through this and securing custodial rights with your child.