Unmarried Fathers and Child Custody and Parenting Time
In today's world, it has become common for children to be born to parents that are unmarried, these children are considered children born "out of wedlock". These parents may live together and act as husband and wife, but in reality, their rights are very different from the rights provided to Fathers that are married to the Mothers of their children.
When a child is born, it is common for a Father to sign an "Affidavit of Parentage" in the hospital along with a birth certificate. Fathers almost never read this document to understand what they are signing.
Signing this Affidavit of Parentage is a very serious prospect and one that unmarried Fathers should understand. Among those important understandings, let's discuss a few of the important items in this Affidavit of Parentage that a Father should understand:
The first important item in an Affidavit of Parentage is that under section (c), "The mother has initial custody of the child...". This means that if a child is born out of wedlock, the Mother is awarded initial custody and if the Father wants custody rights in the future, he must initiate a court proceeding to gain custody. This can be confusing for some fathers who may live with their girlfriends and child for years before separating, only to be told that since they never initiated a court proceeding or married their girlfriend, they don't have any custody rights until they go to Court. It is very important to meet with a family law attorney immediately to discuss how to gain custody rights.
The second important consideration when signing an Affidavit of Parentage is that under section (g), the Father waives the following rights:
The right to have a genetic test to determine if he is the biological Father of the child.
The right to have a court-appointed attorney in any action to determine if he is the biological father
The right to a trial to determine if he is the biological Father.
Obviously, if a Father believes he may not be the biological Father of a child, he should NOT sign the Affidavit of Parentage until he has spoken to an attorney. If a Father signs the Affidavit of Parentage and then later finds out he is NOT the biological Father, he may not be able to remove his monetary or legal responsibilities to that child, even if the child is not his.
Always make sure you speak to an attorney to know your rights if you are an unmarried Father. Attorney Allison Greenlee Korr handles cases in Kalamazoo, Battle Creek and all surrounding counties, call today for a consultation. 269-381-4471