If a father is paying child support, does he have any legal rights to his child? 41 Answers as of March 15, 2012

Say a couple has been separated for two years, never married and they had a child together. The father of the child was 17 (now about to be 21) when the woman had gotten pregnant and she lives in another state. Now the women is looking for child support and all that, and it isn't a problem, but since he will be paying child support does he have LEGAL rights to his daughter? Will the mother now have to let the father see his daughter? If she doesn't, can there be something done so then he can see his daughter or can he possibly still get sole custody? Both parents are reliable people, but in different ways. With that I would just like to know the possibility of the father getting his daughter, even though he has been restricted with visitations, he is actually doing better off with his life than the mother and I personally believe is a better candidate.

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Law Office of Melvin Franke | Melvin Franke
He must file a paternity case that will get him some periods of temporary custody and determine child support and health insurance.
Answer Applies to: Missouri
Replied: 3/12/2012
Law Office of Roianne H. Conner
Law Office of Roianne H. Conner | Roianne Houlton Conner
The father would have to make the visitation as well as joint legal custody request to the Court determining the child support issue.
Answer Applies to: Alabama
Replied: 3/12/2012
Attorney at Law | Maurice Kemp
The payment of child support does not confer any additional rights on the father. Yes, he has the right to see his daughter (visitation) and it might be possible to get physical custody depending on the evidence. An action would have to be initiated under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act and the case would eventually be heard in the state in which the mother and child have been residing.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 3/12/2012
Gutterman, Griffiths PC | Ann Gushurst
The custody issues would be determined by the state in which the child lives. Under uniform laws, the jurisdiction to decide custody issues is the state in which the child lives for the past six months. Please understand that all states have "best interests" of the child as the guiding principle to custody issues and if you are talking about a two year old, the child would not necessarily be better off with the father now if the child doesn't even know the father. Losing your "primary care giver" as a young child can be a devastating event, and although financial stability can translate to emotional stability, that is not always the case.
Answer Applies to: Colorado
Replied: 3/12/2012
Grace Law Offices of John F Geraghty Jr.
Grace Law Offices of John F Geraghty Jr. | John F. Geraghty, Jr.
There is no doubt he has a right to see his daughter. Not only that but since he is a biological parents he has an equal right to her unless there has been a legal action taken in court to establish that and since he is being asked for child support there must be a determination she is the custodial parent. If not he can Petition for Custody or Visitation.
Answer Applies to: Georgia
Replied: 3/12/2012
    Milek Law Firm
    Milek Law Firm | Mary Elizabeth Milek
    Child support and custody/visitation are completely separate issues. You do not gain any rights by paying child support. Without any custody determination, both parents are on equal footing. He needs to file a paternity action where the child resides if he wants custody or visitation.
    Answer Applies to: Mississippi
    Replied: 3/12/2012
    Dunnings Law Firm
    Dunnings Law Firm | Steven Dunnings
    Maybe the mother should be asking these questions if she is concerned rather than you.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 3/12/2012
    Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser
    Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser | Donald F. Conviser
    The father should bring a Paternity case in the state and county in which the mother resides, and seek his custodial and/or visitation rights in that case.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/12/2012
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
    The biological father generally has rights if neither party was married. Parental rights are at issue and it is possible for the father to be adjudged the custodial parent. However, the fact that he has not been a part of his child's life for the last two years will not be in his favor, unless there a strong mitigating factors.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 3/12/2012
    The Law Offices of Laura A. Walker | Laura A. Walker
    He can petition the court for visitation at any time.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 3/12/2012
    McGinity Law Office | Brian D. McGinity
    In California paying child support is not what gives or takes away a father's (or mother's) right to visit a child. They have parental rights just by being parents. He should be asserting his visitation rights wether or not he is paying child support. I don't know what states are involved as you did not provide the information in your question but visitation is generally not contingent on paying support. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/12/2012
    Ezim Law Firm | Dean Esposito
    If you pursue a claim agains the father, you will first have to prove that he is the father. Once there is a court judgment finding that he is the father, he will be responsible for child support but will also be entitled to visitation. The courts presume that joint custody is in the best interest of the child. If he lives in another state, the child will reside with you (domiciliary parent) and he will have custodial periods when the child is not in school and on some weekends if feasible.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 3/12/2012
    The Davies Law Firm, P.A.
    The Davies Law Firm, P.A. | Robert F. Davies, Esq.
    The father has the right to see his daughter.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 3/12/2012
    Peyton and Associates | Barbara Peyton
    All parents have a right to see their child even if child support is not being paid. If the father is not being allowed to see the child, he needs to file a motion with the court in the county where the child resides to get some parenting rights before any more times goes by.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/12/2012
    Law Offices of Jayson A. Soobitsky, P.A. | Jayson A. Soobitsky
    In Maryland a natural parent of a child when no court order exists (or written agreement between you and the other parent) forbidding you from seeing the child you have a right to see your child. No parent has a higher right to the child than the other. Whether you are paying child support or not is irrelevant. Your question indicates that the child lives in another state but does not say which one. You need to check the laws in the state where the child lives.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 3/12/2012
    Elizabeth Jones, A Professional Corporation
    Elizabeth Jones, A Professional Corporation | Elizabeth Jones
    Mother and Father always have had equal rights to the child. However, if father has done nothing to support the child, see the child, send cards or gifts to the child, he may have "abandoned" the child and that will work against him.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/12/2012
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller | Jody A. Miller
    Being ordered to pay child support does not grant the biological father of a child born out of wedlock legal rights. In fact the father has no rights to the child unless and until he legitimates the child. In regard to the chances of getting custody or visitation, the father would need to discuss the specific details of his case with a family law attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 3/12/2012
    Linda C. Garrett Law
    Linda C. Garrett Law | Linda Garrett
    There are many factors to consider. First, father may agree that he doesn't want to be part of the child's life. In this situation-all father does is pay child support. On the other hand, even if father pays NO child support, father would still have the legal right to ask for custody and visitation. The outcome is based on the facts of your specific case. There is no "rule of thumb", e.g. father gets no custody if he doesn't pay support. I strongly encourage you to speak with an attorney. Many family-law attorneys provided free 20-minute consultations; also, if you can't afford to hire an attorney, some provide legal "coaching"-which would be better than having no legal assistance.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/12/2012
    Burnett Evans Banks
    Burnett Evans Banks | Paul Evans
    The obligation to pay child support for our children is a separate issue from a father's right to custody and visitation. While the mother may be able to get the Division of Child Support Enforcement to assist her in establishing and collecting child support, that process will not result in any orders for custody or visitation. Father will have to initiate a civil action in family court to establish a parenting plan and schedule.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 3/12/2012
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
    Since father was never married to mother, his only "legal" right is to go to court and have specific rights decided one actual paternity is decided. Payment or nonpayment of child support has no impact whatsoever on rights affecting parenting of the child, but generally you don't have to pay child support until there is a legal determination of paternity. Once the father seeks specific parental rights to be involved in the child's life, a judge will make the decisions based upon what is in the child's best interest. That process involves much, much more than money.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 3/10/2012
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
    Okay, first if the father is served by the Attorney General with papers seeking child support, he needs to file pleadings seeking custody and visitation in the state where the child lives and immediately ask the AG of the state where he lives to transfer the case back to the other state and consolidate. The AG Court in Texas for example, can collect money, but cannot issue any orders for visitation and possession of an out of state child unless the mother agrees. Why would she, she has everything to gain and nothing to loose by withholding the agreement and the father has everything to loose. If she denies permission, he pays child support and has no visitation rights. If she gives permission, he may pay child support or he may get custody. However, if father files in the state where the child lives, Mom's permission is not required. Dad can ask for visitation or custody and even ask Mom to pay child support.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 3/10/2012
    The Law Offices of Dave Hawkins
    The Law Offices of Dave Hawkins | Dave Hawkins
    The minute the child was born, he had parental rights to the child, however no residential right. He can obtain residential rights to see the child regardless of whether or not he is paying child support. Since the child has moved to another state with the mother, he would have to Petition the court in the State where the child resides to obtain residential rights.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Law Office of James Lentz
    Law Office of James Lentz | James Lentz
    You have thoroughly confused me with your details. When a child is born of unmarried parents, regardless of support commitment, in Ohio the mother is the custodial and residential parent and the father has no rights until ordered by the court. Father always has the right to seek visitation, shared parenting or even custody. Please see a domestic relations lawyer for information about your specific situation.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Diefer Law Group, P.C.
    Diefer Law Group, P.C. | Abel Fernandez
    Child support and child custody are two separate issues and in most states one has nothing to do with the other. In California, you have rights to a child regardless of whether you pay support or not. Also, the fact that you pay support does not necessarily mean you have rights to a child. To have custody rights, you need to file a paternity case.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Weinpel Law Office, P.C. | Marc Weinpel
    If I understand the question, you were 17 or 18 when the child was born. #1. Was your paternity ever established? #2. Have you registered your parental rights with the vital statistics department of the State of Idaho? If not, and you are certain you are the father, you should do that immediately. #3. If she is "in another state" it may be that you would have to establish paternity in that state. #4. How is she "now looking for child support." By direct request or by a proceeding filed by the State? #5. If filed by the State of Idaho, you should (a) decide whether you wish a genetic test to establish paternity; (b) file a cross-petition against the mother seeking custody and visitation orders. The State proceeding is just to establish support, so you will have to do this on your own. #6. In these matters, it somewhat foolish to try to do all this on your own. You should seriously consider hiring counsel!
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    HADJIAN LAW P.C. | ZARI HADJIAN
    A father has a right to his child whether or not he pays child support.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Law Offices of Frances Headley | Frances Headley
    Child support and child custody are separate issues. The general standard applied by the courts to determine child custody is what is in "the best interests of the child". You should consult a family law attorney or facilitator to review the full facts of your situation to assist you in determining how best to proceed.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    McIlveen Family Law Firm
    McIlveen Family Law Firm | Angela McIlveen
    In North Carolina child custody is not based on child support. A judge determining custody of a child tries to determine what is in the best interest of the child. Factors such as who has primarily cared for the child in the past, ability to provide for the child, and other factors are all considered. An unmarried couple in North Carolina who have a child together and do not have a child custody agreement or order from the court on custody each have equal rights to the child. Basically, this means that either parent can have the child. If the child has been living in a state other than NC for the last 6 months that state will be the child's home state and any action for custody would need to be brought in that state and would be under that state's laws. Unless the mother is unfit, it seems unlikely that a judge would award custody to a father who hasn't been involved with the child for two years. However, the judge would might award the father visitation with the child during holidays and sometime during the summer. The fact that the father is paying or is not paying child support doesn't automatically change any legal rights the father might have to the child. As always, it is best to consult with an attorney so that you can explain the particular facts of your case and get advice that is more directly related to your case.
    Answer Applies to: North Carolina
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Law Office of Cassandra Savoy
    Law Office of Cassandra Savoy | Cassandra Savoy
    A father is always the father. He has "rights to his child" whether or not he is paying child support because he has both moral and legal obligations to the child. If he wants visitation whether or not the child lives in the state he is in, all he need do is ask the courts to order.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Gregory C. Graf
    Gregory C. Graf | Gregory C. Graf
    If there is no existing Court Order in place, the father has the same rights as the mother. If the father lives in a separate state and exercises minimal time with the child, it is unlikely that a Court will undo the status quo unless it can be shown that it is in the best interests of the child. If the mother is prohibiting the father from seeing the child, it could be considered alienation and the chences increase that he will obtain parenting time with the child.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Law Office of Lenore Tsakanikas, PLLC
    Law Office of Lenore Tsakanikas, PLLC | Lenore Tsakanikas
    In Arizona, unless the Father's rights have been terminated, he has legal rights to his child. Since the parents were never married, the Father will need to bring a complaint for Paternity to be adjudicated the father of the child; have legal custody established; and have physical custody and parenting time established. The Mother may have already had paternity established through child support enforcement, but the child support enforcement does not address legal custody, physical custody, or parenting time. The The Mother should, but does not have to let the Father see the child unless there is a court order permitting parenting time. That said, in Arizona, there is a presumption that joint legal custody and frequent, meaningful contactwith each parent is in the child's best interest. This means, that at a minimum, the Father will get some visitation even if there has been limited contact up to this point. In determining the legal and physical custody, the Judge will look at each party's circumstances and the fact that the Father has matured and is doing well will help him in his pursuit of his legal right to parent his child. The parents may even reach an agreement in mediation, if they are required to go. Good luck
    Answer Applies to: Arizona
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Pingelton Law Firm | Dan Pingelton
    The father certainly has legal rights. He will have to assert them in the state where the child is located now with the mother, since the child has lived there for an extended period of time. He should consult a lawyer in that jurisdiction but generally, given the history you described, he won't be able to take custody away from mother unless she has serious problems. He is entitled to a parenting schedule, however, and if he's serious about being in the life of the child, he should assert that. I note that this is not the father asking this question, but someone else. I also note that father did not become interested until he was pursued for child support. The courts view these things rather skeptically. Father will need to seriously consider whether he wants to step up. If he does, he will be able to. But it will take some time and some money and a life-long commitment that so far he has not done.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Hynum Law Office, LLC
    Hynum Law Office, LLC | G. Wayne Hynum
    Generally speaking a father has legal rights in regard to his child regardless of whether he is paying child support or not, unless his parental rights have been terminated. If the parents cannot agree on the extent of the father's rights, a Court will have to decide exactly what rights the father has. As I understand your question, you live in Mississippi, but the mother and child live in another State and they have been in that State about 2 years. If that's the case, that other State would have jurisdiction to determine custody, support and visitation issues in regard to the child. So you should consult with an attorney in that State.
    Answer Applies to: Mississippi
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Law Office of Robert D. Rosanelli
    Law Office of Robert D. Rosanelli | Robert D. Rosanelli
    The father has a right to have visitation with the child if paternity has been established. If he desires to have definite visitation, or even custody of the child, and if the mother does not agree, he will have to petition the court for custody or visitation. If the child lives in another state, it is likely that he will have to petition the court in that state, if Arizona has not previously issued custody or visitation orders. If so, the laws of that state, and not Arizona, would apply.
    Answer Applies to: Arizona
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    H. Scott Basham, Attorney at Law, P.C. | H. Scott Basham
    If the woman and child live in another state, he needs to check with a domestic relations lawyer in that state. In Georgia, the father of a child out of wedlock who never legitimates the child has NO rights to custody or visitation, even if he is on the birth certificate and is paying child support. But the law in other states may be quite different.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Glenn E. Tanner
    Glenn E. Tanner | Glenn E. Tanner
    Your daughter is an adult the second she turned 18. No one has "rights" to her. She'll see you if she wants to.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Thomas P. Carnes, Attorney & Mediator | Thomas P. Carnes
    The conservatorship and possession issues are totally separate from support, but all presumptions are in favor of regular access and possession by both parents. The custody issue, as far as with whom the child lives primarily, is fact intensive. The law is supposed to be sexless, but she has apparently been the primary parent thus far. The extent to which the law is actually sexless depends a great deal on location and judge.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    DEAN T. JENNINGS, P.C.
    DEAN T. JENNINGS, P.C. | Dean T Jennings
    Paying support and visitation are not connected legally. The father has visitation rights but must file with the Court to get those set on a schedule. The chances of changing custody to the father depends on many factors and will have to be looked at carefully to see if the is sufficient evidence that "it is in the child's best interest" to be in the custody of the father with visitation for the mother. It is unlikely.
    Answer Applies to: Iowa
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    The Law Offices of Jill Puertas LLC | Jill Puertas
    In the state of Missouri, simply paying child support does not guarantee visitation rights. The Father would need to file a court action to establish a parenting plan that outlines custody and/or visitation between the parties. The payment of the child support does not require the mother to allow the father to see the child.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Bruce Plesser | Bruce Plesser
    Child support and visitation are different issues.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 3/9/2012
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