A Father’s Rights in Child Custody

  • By:David Bate

Law Firm

Biological fathers and mothers both have an equal set of rights when it comes to their children. Fathers who need legal assistance often turn to a child custody attorney for representation. An attorney can understand how emotional and frustrating a child custody case may be for both parents. As long as the state recognizes your paternity of the child, your responsibilities and rights are protected by law.

Rights of Fathers Unmarried

An unwed father has the same rights over their child as the unwed mother. However, your paternity needs to be officially recognized before rights are fully protected. One of the best ways to establish paternity is to list your name on the birth certificate. For unwed fathers, they must establish parentage prior to proceedings with a child custody or visitation case.

Contested Paternity

If the unwed father’s name is not listed on child’s birth certificate, you can establish parentage in addition to protecting rights as a father by filing a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity Form. This document may also be referred to as Affidavit of Parentage or Declaration of Paternity. A child custody attorney can help walk you through completing these important documents, if needed.

Rights of Fatherhood

A biological father has a set list of responsibilities and rights over his child or children. They are listed as follows:

  • Deciding the best interest of your child
  • To obtain custody, control and participate in care of your child, regardless of whether you are married to the mother
  • To provide affection without the other parent interfering
  • To be a source of influence, with regular contact and interactions
  • To guide, educate, offer lessons and discipline
  • To be an active role in decision making when it comes to child’s medical and dental care, in addition to accessing medical records
  • To have full access to child school records and a welcomed part of a school-related meetings or events
  • To choose where your child will live
  • To help decide which schools he or she will attend
  • To make decisions based on your own parenting techniques
  • To decide which religious or cultural influences they are going to be exposed to

Maintaining Your Rights As a Father

If a petition for child custody is filed and you are not prepared, your rights as the father may be threatened. In order to maintain rights, you need to demonstrate to the court that you are more than capable to provide for your children. A child visitation lawyer in Rockville, MD can help provide you with an understanding of the many factors taken into consideration when child custody is determined.



Thank you to our friends and contributors at The Law Office of Daniel J. Wright for their insight into child custody and father’s rights.

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