In cases where the parents of the child were not married the Father of the child has no legal rights toward the child until they legally establish their rights through a Paternity action. Although a Father's name on the Birth Certificate is evidence of Paternity, this does not establish any legal rights toward the child.
I am asked frequently, "Why do I need a paternity test when I know I am the Father?" A Paternity action encompasses far more than a paternity test. In more than half the cases that I have had, no paternity test was even taken as both Parties stipulated as to actual paternity of the child. On the other hand, if there are questions as to Paternity, this is also the time to get a paternity test and clear up any doubts.
A Paternity action legally establishes the Father as the legal Father of the child and gives the Father all of the same rights as the Mother. The right to Parental Responsibility, Timesharing and Child Support. Once Paternity is legally established, the court will establish timesharing schedule based on the same factors that the court considers in Divorce cases. There is no presumption that the Mother or Father will have the majority of the time with the child (See the Child Custody page on this website).
Sometimes legal Paternity is established through a Child Support action. The problem is that the court lacks the ability to establish timesharing in a Child Support action. Therefore, if a Father desires timesharing with a child born out of wedlock and wants to solidify his legal rights, a Paternity action must take place.
If you have had a child out of wedlock and want to establish your legal rights toward that child, contact Michael D. Fluke, P.A. today.