When a married couple with children divorces, it is automatically assumed that the husband is the father. As such, he is entitled to visitation and custody.

When a couple who has never married has children and ends their relationship, things get a bit more complicated. Because the couple never married, it is not assumed that the man is the child’s father. Therefore, the father has to do some work on his part to ensure that he is entitled to visitation and custody of the children.

While every child has both a biological mother and father, when the parents are not married at the time the child is born, that child does not have a legal father. This means that father has no rights or responsibilities when it comes to the child.

Child custody laws for unmarried parents are based on establishing paternity. Establishing paternity can be done in one of two ways for New York fathers. The father can sign a form called an Acknowledgment of Paternity. This form is found in hospitals, local birth registrars, and local district child support offices. If there is any doubt that the man is the father, he can file a petition to have the court determine paternity. The court will ask the mother, father, and child to submit to genetic testing.

If it is confirmed that the man is the biological father, the court will issue an order of filiation. After that, either parent can seek an order for child support, visitation, or custody. The court will determine custody by examining the circumstances of the parents and taking into consideration the best interests of the child. The parent awarded custody will need to have the order enforced in court.

Unmarried Fathers’ Rights

Unless they establish paternity, unmarried fathers have no rights when it comes to their children. Once they are confirmed to be the father, they can petition the court for visitation or legal custody of the child. They can also deny an adoption if the mother decides to put the child up for adoption. Unmarried fathers also have an obligation to provide child support.

Establishing paternity gives a child the same rights as a child born to married parents. Everyone involved benefits from paternity establishment. The child has access to financial support, such as child support, Social Security, veterans’ benefits and inheritance rights. The child also has access to medical insurance and life insurance, as well as information about the father’s medical history.

The mother benefits by having the father listed on the birth certificate. She also shares parental responsibility with the father and gets to receive child support to help with child rearing costs.

Contact a Child Custody Lawyer Today

The laws surrounding child custody can be confusing, especially when the parents were never married. If you and your significant other are ending your relationship, and you have children together, it is important that you understand your legal rights, especially if you are the father.

Seek legal help from Brooklyn child custody attorney Theodore Alatsas ESQ. He can answer your questions and help you achieve a favorable outcome. Schedule a free consultation today by calling (718) 233-2903.

Ted Alatsas
Connect with me
Trusted Brooklyn, New York Family Law Attorney helping NY residents with Elder Law and Asset Protection