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Single fathers and their rights

With the number of children born out of wedlock increasing from 18.4% in 2007 to 40% in 2019, the issue of fathers' rights, which are different for wed and unwed fathers, is an important one. Georgia residents should be aware of how these rights differ and how they affect issues of custody, visitation and support.

When children are both to married parents, the law assumes the husband is the father. However, when couples are not married, the father's paternity is not automatically established. Instead, the father needs to officially establish paternity. Being present at the birth and being listed as the father on the birth certificate is the simplest way. In other situations, the father might wish to register with the state as the child's father by filling out a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form. A paternity test is necessary to establish paternity and the state might order the mother to cooperate to do so.

Establishing paternity is important if the father wants to have a claim for custody and visitation. It also means that the father has a financial responsibility towards that child that might translate into being responsible for child support. The only way a father can avoid paying support ordered by a court is by having his paternity rights terminated which means he will not be part of his child's life. Experts recommend that unmarried parents who are not a couple negotiate their own parenting plan with the best interests of the child. Courts will usually accept these parenting plans as binding.

A parent who finds themselves dealing with a child custody conflict might benefit from the guidance a family law lawyer can provide. A lawyer may help the parent understand their rights, explain the options for the family in that situation and represent the parent during the process.

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Hecht Family Law
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