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South Jersey & Philadelphia

Unmarried fathers have the right to seek shared custody

On Behalf of | Feb 17, 2022 | Child Custody

Being a dad is a demanding, lifelong occupation. You have to protect and provide for your children from when they are tiny children incapable of self-defense and also when they are teenagers capable of ruining their own lives.

Fathers play an important role in the emotional development, self-esteem and financial stability of their children. Sadly, many fathers have a hard time maintaining their relationship because of the relationship with the mother of their children.

Unmarried fathers in particular often feel like they have no rights. The mother seems to have total control over when they can come around and how much interaction they can have with the children. The only reason the mother has so much authority is that you have not asked for shared custody or established paternity. Taking those steps will help you be more active in the lives of your children.

How do you establish paternity?

Every state has a slightly different approach to paternity establishment, but there are usually at least two methods for unmarried fathers. The first involves cooperating with the mother to fill out voluntary acknowledgment paperwork that adds him to the birth certificate.

The second is to go to family court and undergo genetic testing to affirm the paternity of the child. Once a father has established legal paternity with the state government where he and the child side, he has the right to ask for custody or parenting time.

A judge will understand the importance of your involvement

Some fathers think that every family law judge gives preferential treatment to mothers. They think they will have to fight an uphill battle or that they won’t receive fair consideration from a judge if they ask for shared custody.

Thankfully, that is not the case. Judges making custody determinations don’t think about the relationship between the parents but instead what is best for the children. Having a long-term, positive relationship with their father is almost always in the best interests of a young child.

Provided that you are willing to ask for time with your children, the chances are very good that you will receive at least visitation if not shared custody. Understanding the basics of the paternity process and your custody rights as a father can help you reconnect with your children.