Paternity Law: Gaining Child Custody As An Unwed Biological Father

paternity lawBy Nathan A. Hacker

Mens Divorce Attorney, Cordell & Cordell

Paternity law is a growing area of litigation as currently more than 4 out of 10 children are born to unmarried parents, according to the National Center For Health Statistics.

Of the 41 percent of children born out of wedlock, many biological fathers are not even in the picture at the time of birth only to find out years later that they are in fact the father.

In these situations, how does an unwed biological father gain child custody or visitation rights? How long will it take? What factors are considered? How much of a role does the mother’s behavior have in these determinations?

The good news for dads who come to learn they are the biological father is courts essentially operate under the presumption that it is in the child’s best interest to be with their biological parents.

Where I practice (Indiana), there are parenting time guidelines for introducing a “new adult” into a child’s life. What that means is that the court will work to introduce you into your child’s life within certain terms. These guidelines are based on the child’s age, development and the stage of the relationship between the new parent and the child.

If you want custody of your child, expect it to take a while. The courts, barring some tragic event, are not likely to simply switch custody to a parent that has no bond with the child.

You must create the bond first. The second step is growing the bond. Lastly, show that it is in the best interest of your son emotionally and physically that you be the custodial parent.

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Unwed Fathers Rights

Keep in mind that the court will not be “holding it against you” that you have not been in your child’s life from birth. Rather, it is looking out for your child’s best interest emotionally and physically. The judge might not like that he has to introduce you as the dad slowly, but it is your child’s health the judge is most concerned with.

I would suggest that you do the following:

1)  Hire a mens divorce attorney to assist you.

2)  Be patient.

3)  Schedule as much time with your child as the court will allow and don’t miss the scheduled time. This shows the court you’re going to be there for your child and put him/her first.

4)  Treat your child’s mother with respect, even if it is not returned. Let your lawyer do the fighting.

If you are worried about your child in the mother’s presence and would like to present evidence to support your case for child custody, then you need to be aware of the rules as to what can actually be used in court and for what purpose.

Typically I’m asked about recording conversations or videotaping the mother with the child to prove she is unfit. I would be very careful about recording conversations without the other party’s knowledge. States vary on the admissibility of recordings and some provide for criminal prosecution for unauthorized recording. Divorce lawyers for men can advise you regarding your exact situation.

You should be documenting everything, though, as you await your day in court. Even using a child custody calendar to record relevant events can help you and your attorney prepare a more convincing case. An experienced attorney can give you more suggestions tailored to your specific case.

 

Indiana divorce lawyerTo set up an appointment with a Cordell & Cordell mens divorce attorney, including Nathan A. Hacker, an Associate Attorney in Indianapolis, please contact Cordell & Cordell.

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