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What are the child custody rights of unmarried fathers?

On Behalf of | Jul 16, 2021 | Child Custody |

In Pennsylvania, families come in all different forms. This includes unmarried parents who are no longer in a relationship but have children together. If you are an unwed father and you want custody of your child, you should know all about your rights.

You may have to establish paternity of your child

With unmarried couples who have children, it may be necessary to establish paternity of the kids. The situation may call for paternity to be established if you and your child’s mother are no longer together, but this means you can fight for child custody. Establishing paternity gives you legal claim to your child and the ability to make decisions for them.

In many cases, establishing paternity is as simple as having the father’s name put on the birth certificate. If you’re at the hospital with your child’s mother when your child is born, you can easily help fill out the birth certificate. However, another option is to complete a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form. If the mother contests the paternity, you can petition with the court and take a paternity test.

How does an unwed father gain custody?

After you have established paternity of your child, you can determine your child custody status. Unwed fathers have the same rights as married fathers when it comes to the custody of their children.

While custody isn’t typically an issue if an unmarried couple is living together raising their child, it can be a challenge for the father if the parents aren’t living together. In this situation, you may have to petition the court for custody.

Custody laws can vary, but the one factor that the judge always considers over all else is what’s in the best interests of the child. The best way to establish custody is usually to work with the mother of your child and come up with an agreement that works for both of you and for your child, which you can ask the court to approve.

Where to go for legal help

A family law attorney may help you if you’re an unwed father who wants custody of your child. Your attorney may offer advice about how to negotiate with your child’s mother or, if negotiations fail, to petition the court.