In most cases, you have many months to let the idea of being a father sink in. In the case where paternity is questioned or when a father does not know that they have a child, things can be completely different. In fact, these father’s might not find out that they have a child until that child is much older. Many worry that they will not have the same rights as a father who knew that they had a child from birth. The law is not in favor of keeping fathers away from their children, even if they do not find out that the child exists until later in life.
Understanding the New Definition of Family
In cases where the parents have never been married, it can be more difficult for the father to make sure that all of his rights are being upheld. Today more than 40% of all children are born to unwed parents. As this number continues to rise, more and more fathers need to be aware of what rights they have when they have never been married to their child’s mother.
Sometimes children are born to unwed couples that are fully committed to one another. In this case, the child is still growing up in a home where they have two parents who are living under the same roof. In far too many cases, the children are growing up in homes where they are never able to meet or get to know their father. In some of these cases it is because the father has not wanted to be there, but in others it has been the mother who has kept the father in the dark about even becoming a father. In these cases, the father can request paternity tests and once established, he can request that he have rights to have visitation with the child.
What You Need to Know When You Find Out You Are the Father
If you have been in a situation where you have not known if you were the father or not, there are some things that you should be made aware of. Once you have established paternity, you are going to start being held responsible as the child’s father. You are also going to want to work with the mother in order to have some paternal rights so that you can get to know your child. Now that you have established paternity, you can move on to securing your rights for visitation and possibly even shared custody of the child.
First Things First, Get on the Birth Certificate
If paternity was established after the birth certificate was issued, then you will have to file to have the birth certificate amended. If the paternity test was done prior to the birth, you will be able to secure your name on the birth certificate at that time. It is important that you make sure that your name is on the birth certificate. If you do not then should something happen to the mother, you will not have the same rights that you would if your name was on it.
Understand Your State’s Legislature
Each state is different in the rights that a father has. However, there are some states where you can be placed on a registrar so that you are notified should anything legal take place with the child. This could include someone trying to adopt the child, the mother waving her rights, or in the event that your child’s custody is questioned in court for any reason.
Fight for Custody Rights or Visitations
When you have finished with this, you should take the time to make sure that you have the rights that you deserve. This includes fighting for some form of custody or visitation. It is important that you are aware of the rights that you have and that you are able to see your child on a regular basis. In some cases, you might be able to get awarded certain types of custody. However, if you are not make sure that you take up all of the visitation time that you are offered. Doing this will give you the basis that you need to fight for custody in the future.
Be Prepared to Support Your Child
Once you start fighting for rights, you must be ready to hold up the responsibilities. Make sure that you are prepared to support your child by paying child support and helping cover expenses for things that your child needs. While you might not feel that what you are asked to pay is fair, do it in good conscience that you are doing what is right for your child to be raised in a healthy and stable environment.
Being a father takes time and effort. It can be quite a shock when you find out that you are a father after having not known that your ex was pregnant. Regardless of how you find out. Once you know that you are a father, there are certain rights and responsibilities that you should have.