Can a father of a child get custody when he has never been married to the mother of the child?
There are a couple of ways that an unwed father can establish legal paternity to get custody and visitation of his child through the court system. Even when there is no dispute as to biological paternity, legal paternity must be established.
When an unmarried woman gives birth to a child the woman and the man can reach an agreement that the man is the father of the child.
The natural father can also establish paternity by executing a voluntary declaration of paternity. Once this document is filed with the State Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) it establishes the legal paternity of a child and has the same effect as a judgment for legal paternity issued by a court of competent jurisdiction. By doing this, the father then has a basis for requesting child custody, visitation and/or child support.
Once this parent-child relationship is established by voluntary declaration it may only be nullified by the following methods: an executed rescission filed with DCSS within 60 days of the execution of the declaration; a court order to set aside the declaration based upon genetic test results; or a court order to set aside the declaration based on motion by the court, the mother, presumed father or local child support agency.
In addition, paternity is rebuttably presumed if the man receives the child into his home and openly acknowledges the child as his natural child. The presumption can be rebutted in an appropriate action only by a showing of clear and convincing evidence that the man is not the father.
Commencement of the action for paternity is permitted prior to birth. However, even an unborn child is owed a duty of support and thus a father can be ordered to pay child support before the baby is born.
Establishing paternity is an important process to ensure your rights as a father. With Wallin & Klarich on your side, you can rest assured that your attorney is working hard to get the best possible outcome for you and your family. We have more than 30 years of experience in family law matters. For a consultation call us today at 1-888-280-6839 or fill out the online consultation form.