If you are the biological father of a child born to a woman you are not
married to, you may need to take legal steps in order to establish your
rights as a parent. When a child is born to a woman during a marriage,
the law will assume the father is the husband. If this is not the case,
the father must prove that he is the father before the relationship can
be recognized by the Court.
Rights and Responsibilities of Unmarried Parents:
Mothers have AutomaticLegal Decision Making – There is almost never any doubt about the identity of a child’s
mother – particularly when the birth occurs in a hospital. In most
cases, the mother has full legal and physical custody of the child from
the moment the baby is born. She holds all legal decision making power
and the child lives with her. If the unmarried father steps forward to
establish parentage of the baby, he may dispute these rights in order
to obtain some for himself. But if he does not step forward to establish
parentage of the child (AKA paternity), he usually can’t dispute
the rights of the mother.
Fathers Must Establish Paternity – Fathers wishing to establish rights to a child born out of wedlock
must first establish paternal rights by proving that he is the biological
father and then request that the Court grant him visitation rights or
legal decision making rights.
- Unmarried Fathers May Pay Child Support – Once paternity is established,
both parents are responsible for supporting the child financially. A parent
can request that the Court order the other to pay child support with the
amount of the support depending upon both parents’ income combined
with legal guidelines and other factors.
The laws regarding rights and responsibilities of unmarried parents can
be complicated, and each case is unique. For additional information or
more details regarding the legal processes required to establish paternity
or legal decision making and parenting time, get in touch with the experienced
lawyers at Arizona Family Law Attorneys.