Family Matters: What Are a Father’s Rights to His Child?

Family Matters: What Are a Father's Rights to His Child?

There are approximately 70 million dads in the US. When they are involved in their children’s lives, the children display healthier behavior overall, including their educational performance and relationships.

There’s no doubt about it, fathers have a positive impact on a child’s life.

Parental rights for fathers has become a hot topic given today’s culture of divorce and unwed parents. Many fathers find themselves asking, “What are my rights as a father?”

A biological father has certain legal rights according to the laws in each state. Stick around and read this guide on a father’s rights to his child.

What are a Father’s Rights to His Child?

Fathers often get the short end of the stick when it comes to their parental rights. Historically, a child was more often than not, put in the custody of the mother. Now, state laws dictate that gender cannot be a factor when deciding on who gets custody of a child.

Unmarried Dad

Years ago, an unmarried father’s legal rights to a child were very few. An unmarried father may not even be named on the child’s birth certificate.

In order to establish a father’s rights to the child, paternity has to be asserted. Both parents have to sign and file an “acknowledgment” with vital records in their state.

If the mom denies paternity, the father needs to file a paternity suit in the local court. A judge orders a DNA test to prove or disprove paternity. Determination of custody and visitation rights are part of a paternity suit as well.

Home DNA paternity testing can be used in a court case when you choose the Legal Paternity Testing option.

Rights to Custody and Visitation

Fathers and mothers have equal rights to custody of a child. If you and the mom are unable to work out a parenting agreement, a judge will look at all of the factors to determine what will serve the best interest of the child.

Legal Custody

Legal custody is the right to make decisions regarding the welfare of the child. This means deciding things like medical care, education, and religion.

Physical Custody

Physical custody dictates the child’s living arrangements.


As long as the father is stable, emotionally and physically and there is no history of abuse, it is in the best interest of the child to have both parents involved in his life.

If custody is awarded to the mother, a visitation agreement will decide the father’s visitation rights and vice versa.

Child Support

The noncustodial parent pays child support. If you as the dad are awarded custody, the mother will pay you child support to help cover expenses such as food, shelter, and clothing.

Get Legal Advice

Now that you know a father’s rights to his child, you may want to seek legal advice from a child custody lawyer. They have the experience and knowledge to help you move forward with your claim.

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