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Paternity & Single Fathers Rights
What A Single Father Needs To Know
More than 40% of American children are born out of wedlock. The fathers of these children often will become involved in paternity cases to determine their parental responsibilities. If you are one of these fathers, here are some things you need to know and do.
A Father's Rights
The issues of single fathers are two fold, covering those who are knowingly having children outside wedlock, such as with a live in significant other, and those who have learned they are (or will be) a father by an ex, or that one-night-stand. However, they share the same issues in that both are financially responsible for the child, and neither have any "Legal Parental Rights" to the child, even while paying child support.
In every US State, a single mother has Sole Custody AND Control of a child born outside wedlock, regardless of the living circumstances of the parents. The only specific right the father of the child possesses is the right to petition the court for some level of access and custody rights.
However, while the mother of the children has the full power and resources of State and Federal Government to establish and enforce a Child Support Claim, the father does not have these same resources available to establish his access rights.
You & Your Ex
Invariably, most men who have had a child with a girlfriend will learn how few rights they have when she decides he's no longer worthy of her, or her child.
DO NOT PAY ANY KIND OF SUPPORT FOR THE CHILD UNTIL A DNA TEST IS DONE, AS IT ACKNOWLEDGES YOUR FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE CHILD.
Once you begin paying child support, regardless of whether you are the father or not, you can be required to continue paying.
If you are paying without a court order, it can be considered a gift, with you ordered to repay for the same time period, especially if she's on Welfare, up to 18 years worth.
- Get a DNA test done. If you have contact with the child, for confirmation purposes only, you can use a kit purchase from a pharmacy, or online, costing around $100. It requires only two samples, the father and child. This will give you results, but it will not be admissible as evidence in court. A court admissible test, costing around $400, must be performed by a certified clinic. A Prenatal Test can also be performed. If the mother refuses you access, than a court order may be required.
- If paternity has been confirmed, but a child support order is not in place, go to the Child Support Enforcement Office (AG in Texas) to setup a voluntary Child Support Order. If you wait for them to file against you ,it will result in you paying court costs of up to $5000.
- Take a Certified Parenting Course. The court is going to order you to take it anyway, so by showing you've already taken it only looks good to them. Check with your local Adult Education services, or the Community College. There are also online courses available.
- Start keeping a Daily Journal of all your activities. The most common way to prevent a father from getting his rights through the courts is a false allegation. A Daily Journal is your number one piece of evidence in court and you can even refer to it while on the stand. Further, create a Chronological Statement in preparation for hiring an attorney, if one is needed.
- Gather Evidence. If legal in your state, Record All Conversations you have with the child's mother.
- If this goes to court, you will be ordered into Mediation. If the mother is willing, take the lead, and suggest it to her. By doing this, instead of hiring attorneys, you go to a mediator to hammer out an agreement. A Mediator is an Attorney or Paralegal with certified training as a mediator. You each have to pay half the fees in order for the mediator to have the appearance of being unbiased.
- If you are being denied access, write her a letter notifying her of intent to exercise visitation on a specific date, like Saturday 10 AM to 6 PM. (see this link for example)
- Sign the letter and make five (5) copies. Mail the original "Certified Mail" and the other with "Delivery Confirmation" (75¢ + postage). These are two separate types of mailings.
- Even if she rejects the Certified Letter, she will still receive the letter with Delivery Confirmation. A Deliver Confirmation can be obtained from the USPS website.