Parent rights unmarried can present some unique challenges when children are involved especially for unwed fathers. While unmarried father's rights to visitation and child custody and paternity laws can vary from state to state there are some very important factors to consider.
Parent rights when unmarried are not the same as married couples. When a child is born to a married couple the father is automatically presumed to be the father. However, parent rights unmarried is different in that unwed fathers are not automatically presumed to be the biological father of their children even in cases where the father has been listed on the child's birth certificate. Generally, paternity must be established for the father to seek custody and/or visitation rights with his child. Paternity refers to the legal acknowledgment of the parental relationship between a father and his child.
When children are born out of wedlock paternity may be established if the father voluntarily signs a declaration stating they are the biological father or if they involve the court by filing a paternity case. In California, only after paternity is established will a father obtain rights and responsibilities involving their children.
A putative father is defined as a man who may be the childís biological father, but who is not married to the childís mother on or before the date of the childís birth and has not established his paternity through legal proceeding. In most states a putative father must be given notice of proceedings involving adoption plans or proceedings that can terminate his parental rights. States generally require a putative father to register (see fatherís registry) or acknowledge paternity within a certain amount of time otherwise their right to notice is void.
As noted above, parent rights unmarried can present some unique challenges especially for the father. Men who think they may be the father of a child should contact a family lawyer or the state to find out how to make a claim to their child and assert their rights as soon as possible in order to preserve their parental rights.