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How unwed fathers can establish parental rights

Children share a special bond with their fathers from the moment they are born. As a dad, you have an important responsibility to support, nurture and care for your kid. If your child was born outside of marriage, you may have concerns about your rights.

If the mother of your child is restricting your involvement, you may be feeling a lot of frustration. Thankfully, there are measures fathers can take towards establishing and protecting their parental rights. Here are some possible routes.

Come to a mutual agreement

Typically, the easiest way to establish your paternal rights is by signing a paternity affidavit with the mother of your child. If you are on good terms with her, you may be able to pursue this voluntary process. Generally, completing and signing this form in the presence of a witness will add your name to the birth certificate and legally establish certain rights as the father of your child. You can usually obtain this form at the hospital or birthing center where your child was born.

File a lawsuit

Unfortunately, things may not always be that simple. The mother of your kid may be reluctant to let you have legal rights to see him or her. You could bring a lawsuit to the court with the assistance of a family law attorney. Once you file the lawsuit, you may need to undergo a DNA or genetic test. This will determine whether you are the biological father. If you are the father, the Child Support Enforcement Agency will issue a paternity order that gives you the opportunity to request visitation or custody. You may also need to start paying child support.

If it is important for you to have legal rights to see your child, you should talk to an attorney about establishing paternity.

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