What rights does a father have to custody or visitation if he never married the child's mother? 62 Answers as of June 28, 2013

If you are a man who did not marry the mother of your child but lived together for four years, what do you do to get custody or visitation if she is keeping daughter away?

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Victor Varga | Victor Varga
File for custody and/or visitation. The mother and father have equal rights...it will depend on what is in the best interest of the child, and who historically has been the primary caretaker.
Answer Applies to: Maryland
Replied: 8/14/2012
The Jordan Law Firm
The Jordan Law Firm | John Paul Jordan
You file a paternity action. This will establish custody and visitation. As long as there is no reason to keep you away from the child, the court will allow visitation with the child.
Answer Applies to: Oklahoma
Replied: 8/14/2012
Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
A father has rights regardless of the marital status of the parties (past or present). The only question is if you are in fact the father.

Accordingly, since there is no divorce, you need to file a Suit to Establish Paternity.

Basically, you are suing the mother alleging you are the father of her child.

She has to refute the allegation - we normally get DNA done either way - then the court declares you the biological father and issues custody, support and visitation orders.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 8/14/2012
Law Office of Melvin Franke | Melvin Franke
A lot. you need to hire an attorney to file a paternity case.
Answer Applies to: Missouri
Replied: 8/14/2012
Joanna Mitchell & Associates, P.A.
Joanna Mitchell & Associates, P.A. | Joanna Mitchell
You need to file a legal action to establish your rights as the biological father.

Once you are legally established as the biological father, and as long as there are no factors that would prohibit you from seeing your child (such as arrests, DUI's, etc.), then both visitation or timesharing and child support would be established.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 8/14/2012
    Bruning & Associates, PC | Mary D. Sump
    A never married father of a child has rights to custody and visitation. You would put this into motion by filing a Petition to Establish a Parent-Child Relationship. The Judge would want to see a copy of the child's birth certificate, and a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity, if you signed one at the child's birth. If you did not sign the VAP, the Judge will first order you to undergo DNA testing to ensure that you are the biological father. If the results come back that you are the father, the Judge will hear the issues of custody and visitation. You will receive time with your child according to a schedule unless the Judge rules that your contact with the child is harmful to his or her health or well-being (which is a difficult burden to show). You will almost certainly have the right to maintain a relationship with your child. I would recommend that you see a licensed attorney so you know how to proceed within the court system.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 8/14/2012
    Law Office of Cassandra Savoy
    Law Office of Cassandra Savoy | Cassandra Savoy
    Public policy in New Jersey requires both parents to remain involved in their children's lives even if the parents no longer want to be involved with each other. Who gets custody is a function of what is in the best interest of the child. The determination of the child's best interest usually requires an investigation and a hearing. Parenting time or visitation does not require a hearing. You need only apply, and unless there is something unusual, you will more than likely be given parenting time.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 8/14/2012
    Dennis P. Mikko Attorney at Law | Dennis P. Mikko
    As the biological father, you are a parent who has rights to see and support the child. If the co-parent is keeping the child away from you, you could file an action in court seeking a custody order. The order would also spell out parenting time and child support. It would also make a legal determination that you are the father of the child. Once entered, both parents would be required to abide by the terms of the order or face possible contempt for violating the order. Once the case is filed, it would be hoped that you and the mother could reach agreement regarding your daughter. If that is not possible, the court would hear testimony and make a determination that would be binding on both of you.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/14/2012
    John Russo | John Russo
    File a motion in the family court asking the court to determine, custody, placement, support, and visitation.
    Answer Applies to: Rhode Island
    Replied: 8/14/2012
    Barbara Fontaine, Esquire | Barbara Fontaine
    File a motion for custody and visitation in Family Court. You probably need to show you are on the birth certificate or would have to request a DNA test to prove you are the father. Are you paying some child support? That would be a good idea.
    Answer Applies to: Rhode Island
    Replied: 8/14/2012
    Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock
    Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock | Arlene D. Kock
    You should file and serve a paternity action with a motion to establish custody and visitation. The child has a right to have a relationship with both of his parents.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/14/2012
    Grace Law Offices of John F Geraghty Jr.
    Grace Law Offices of John F Geraghty Jr. | John F. Geraghty, Jr.
    Yes, you can file a Legitimation Petition and receive parenting time.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 8/14/2012
    Darrell B. Reynolds, P.C. | Darrell B. Reynolds
    You need to file a petition with the court to legitimate the child. Until the child is legitimated, you have no rights but you have the obligation to provide support for the child. Your name on the birth certificate does not legitimate the child. You need a court order. You also need an attorney to represent you. If you do not have an attorney and you would like to discuss this matter further, please feel free to give our office a call.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 8/14/2012
    Sedin Begakis & Bish | Mindy Bish
    An unmarried father needs to file a paternity action to establish that he is the father of the child. The Court will then order appropriate custody, visitation, and child support for that child.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/14/2012
    Hynum Law Office, LLC
    Hynum Law Office, LLC | G. Wayne Hynum
    The first thing you do is file a petition with the Chancery Court asking the Chancery Judge to establish your custody and/or visitation rights. Then you follow the laws and procedures established for these cases.
    Answer Applies to: Mississippi
    Replied: 8/14/2012
    The Law Offices of Robert W. Bellamy
    The Law Offices of Robert W. Bellamy | Robert W. Bellamy
    Whatever the court gives him.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 8/14/2012
    Law Office of Daniel B. Rubanowitz, APC
    Law Office of Daniel B. Rubanowitz, APC | Daniel B. Rubanowitz
    There is a presumption that it is in the best interest of minor children to have both of his/her parents in his/her life. Depending upon the other facts, you would have the same custodial rights as any other parent whether it be a paternity case or dissolution of marriage case. You should consult with a Family Law Attorney. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/14/2012
    Steven Alpers | Steven Alpers
    You must file an action to determine parent child relationship and ask for custody and visitation.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/14/2012
    Clos, Russell & Wirth, P.C. | Gary A. Russell
    Assuming paternity has been established (i.e, you are on the birth certificate), then you have standing to file a complaint with the court seeking a determination of custody, parenting time and support. If paternity has not been established, then you must file a paternity action, to try to establish paternity, once that is established, the court will then make a determination on custody, parenting time and support.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/14/2012
    Goncalves Law Office | Humberta Goncalves-Babbitt
    The rights of a biological father are not determined by whether or not the child's parents were ever married.

    That said, the first thing you need to do is to prove that you are indeed the biological father. If you are listed on the birth certificate you use that.

    If you are not listed on the birth certificate, then you will need DNA testing. You should consult an experienced family law attorney to help you in the process.
    Answer Applies to: Rhode Island
    Replied: 8/14/2012
    Steven Harrell, Attorney at Law | Waymon Steven Harrell
    He has no rights under our law unless he legitimates the child.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 8/14/2012
    T.K. Byrne | Timothy K. Byrne
    You will need to bring a paternity, support, custody and visitation action against the mother if you wish to have a judge decide any of these issues.
    Answer Applies to: Mississippi
    Replied: 8/14/2012
    THE LOCKHART LAW FIRM | CLAYTON LOCKHART
    If you are the child's natural parent you have as much right to custody/visitation as the other parent does, regardless of gender.

    If paternity hasn't been established yet, then file a petition to get paternity established and in your petition ask for custody or visitation to be established.

    The court will make a determination on the custody and visitation issues and once that has been done, then you will legally have the rights to your daughter and if those rights are being violated, then go back to court on a contempt petition and let the court decide what to do.
    Answer Applies to: Mississippi
    Replied: 8/14/2012
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
    You have the same rights as you would have had you married her. Call for an appointment and with details.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/14/2012
    Dunnings Law Firm
    Dunnings Law Firm | Steven Dunnings
    First you have to establish you are the biological father in court. A birth certificate listing your name as the father does not count.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/14/2012
    R. Jason de Groot, P.A
    R. Jason de Groot, P.A | R. Jason de Groot
    File a petition to establish paternity and get your rights established.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 8/14/2012
    Leonard A. Kaanta, P.C. | Leonard A. Kaanta
    You would have to bring a paternity case and ask for visitation, otherwise under Michigan law, you have no rights.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/14/2012
    Attorney at Law | John P. Rivers
    Until you establish the legal parent-child relationship, the mother has complete control and authority over the child. You need to file a Petition for Legitimation.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 8/14/2012
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    If the parents were not married, by default, the mother is the custodial parent and the father would have no enforceable parenting rights until they are established by a court.

    If a man is not married to a child's mother when the child is born, he can become the "legal" father through the "Recognition of Parentage" (ROP) process or by Court Order. However, such an adjudication still bestows no custody or parenting time rights on the father.

    To get a Court Order establishing paternity and establishing custody or parenting time, the father must commence an action for paternity, or where paternity is established, for custody and parenting time, in the local District Court of the county where the child lives.

    In the end, the longer a father waits to establish custody and parenting time, the more difficult seeking a reasonable custody resolution and/or parenting schedule may become.

    If the matter cannot be resolved by agreement, Courts make custody determinations based on what the court believes is in the child's best interests.

    Most courts do not view 50 -50 custody as a viable option believing that it provides the child with little stability.

    As a result, in most cases, the court will award primary physical custody to one parent while the other will have a parenting schedule.

    Often, seeking primary physical custody is advisable to seeking joint physical custody in order to acquire a more favorable resolution by agreement.

    The court will consider any relevant facts in making a custody determination including 13 specific factors outlined in Minnesota Statutes. Your case should be carefully framed to address each of the relevant statutory factors to be effective.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 8/14/2012
    Law Office of Ronee Korbin Steiner PC | Ronee Korbin Steiner
    Biological fathers who do not marry the Mother are entitled to seek joint custody and equal parenting time. You should seek advice to pursue.
    Answer Applies to: Arizona
    Replied: 8/14/2012
    Dorothy Spinelli, PC | Dorothy Spinelli
    File Legit Petition Look on Fulton county family website for form.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/28/2013
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
    Right now your only legal right is the right to go to court and have the court state specifically what rights you should have once it is legally determined that you are the child's father. Until then, your only rights are what the mother willingly lets you exercise. When you file a Petition to Establish Parent-Child Relationship (commonly known as paternity suit) the Court can legally establish your status as a parent and then adopt a parenting plan that is in the best interests of the child, after consideration of all the facts and circumstances. That parenting plan will be established by the judge unless you and the mother can agree to what is best for the child. Once approved by the judge, the parenting plan is an enforceable court order.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 8/14/2012
    Theodora Fader | Theodora Fader
    If the parents executed an affidavit/acknowledgement of paternity, you would need to file a custody action and obtain appropriate orders. If the parents did not execute the affidavit/acknowledgement of paternity, you would need to file a paternity case in order to establish that you are the child's father.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/14/2012
    Reza Athari & Associates, PLLC | Seth L. Reszko
    Whether you never married the mother is irrelevant to custody and visitation. As the biological father you have an equal right to custody and Nevada law has a presumption that joint legal custody is in the best interests of the child. As for physical custody and visitation, you should file the necessary paperwork with the Court and that would include an acknowledgment of paternity. The Family Court has a Self-Help Center that can offer you the forms at a nominal fee. If you wanted to retain private counsel, we offer free consultations and affordable payment plans. Keep in mind, that once you file for custody, if there is no order for child support, the Court will require that child support be ordered to the non-custodial parent.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 8/14/2012
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn | Paul Zahn
    File a Petition to Establish a Parental Relationship and a motion to obtain custody and visitation orders.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/14/2012
    Attorney At Law | Harry D. Roth
    If you have been involved in the child's life and you are, in fact, the father, you have rights. To enforce those rights, bring an action in Superior Court. Begin with a Petition to Determine Parentage, basically a paternity case, asking the court to find that you are the father and to make orders regarding custody, visitation and support.? Be prepared to pay support. With rights go duties.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/14/2012
    Patterson Johnson-Stovall & Crenshaw PLLC | Joyce Johnson-Stovall
    You will have to file a petition to establish paternity. Obtain parenting time and calculate child support.
    Answer Applies to: Arizona
    Replied: 8/14/2012
    Donaldson Stewart, PC
    Donaldson Stewart, PC | Monica H. Donaldson Stewart
    When the parents were unmarried, the father can file a Paternity action, asking the court to declare him the legal father of the child, and also asking the court to establish orders regarding custody, parenting time and child support.
    Answer Applies to: Arizona
    Replied: 8/14/2012
    Goddard Wetherall Wonder, PSC
    Goddard Wetherall Wonder, PSC | Brook Goddard
    You need to file what is called a parentage action, through which you may obtain an enforceable parenting plan.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/14/2012
    Alvin Lundgren | Alvin Lundgren
    No rights unless you are on the birth certificate or filed for paternity AND you have filed for custodial rights.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 8/14/2012
    Wolfstone, Panchot & Bloch, P.S., Inc.
    Wolfstone, Panchot & Bloch, P.S., Inc. | Mark Brown
    You must file with the court a Petition for a Parenting Plan/Residential Schedule.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/28/2013
    Mike Yeksavich | Mike Yeksavich
    File a paternity case and have the court enter orders for custody and visitation and child support.
    Answer Applies to: Oklahoma
    Replied: 8/14/2012
    Salladay Law Office | Lance Salladay
    So long as the biological dad does certain things to protect his interests with the child- register with the Dept. of Health and Welfare and pay support- he has rights to visitation and custody the same as any father does. You need to pursue a paternity action in court to establish your paternity and to get an order for visitation, custody or whatever. Without the Order your rights are limited so you need to get the court Order.
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 8/14/2012
    Ezim Law Firm | Dean Esposito
    You have just as much right to custody and visitation as if you were married. You would need to file a petition to establish custody and visitation in order for the matter before the court and have the court award such.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 8/14/2012
    Law Office of Gregory Crain | Gregory Crain
    File for paternity and visitation.
    Answer Applies to: Arkansas
    Replied: 6/28/2013
    Bruce Plesser | Bruce Plesser
    Yes. Get court order.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 5/29/2013
    Petit & Dommershausen SC
    Petit & Dommershausen SC | Tajara Dommershausen
    You need to file a motion for custody and placement.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 6/28/2013
    Glenn E. Tanner
    Glenn E. Tanner | Glenn E. Tanner
    Petition to establish a parenting plan. You have a right to have a parenting plan that is in the best interest of your child Confidential Communication If you have received this transmission in error.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/14/2012
    Mary W Craig P.C. | Mary W Craig
    If you are the biological father of the child, then you have all rights afforded a father, unless extenuating circumstances exist that would prevent your visiting your child. For instance, if you have a criminal record of violence, or if you are a drug user or distributor, that sort of thing, then a court might find you should have no visitation or only supervised visitation. However, if you do not have a criminal record and you wish to be included in your child's life, then you should hire an attorney to establish visitation and custody rights. If you and your ex can agree, then the two of you can sign an agreement that is enforceable in court. If you cannot agree, you must go to court to have a judge establish if and when you are entitled to see your child. You should expect, though, that the judge will order child support, and it will probably be retroactive to the child's birth. You will be able to show that you supported the child while you and your ex lived together, but once you were not supporting her and your child, your obligation to pay child support began and a judge will order you to pay it. If you are unemployed, the court will order that you pay child support as if you had a minimum wage job, because a court assumes that if you are ablebodied you can find a job somewhere, even if it's saying "do you want fries with that."
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 8/14/2012
    Michael Apicella
    Michael Apicella | Apicella Law and Mediation
    You can file a parentage action at your local county family court. I.e., establish paternity, and as part of that effort, you can request the custody and visitation orders that you want.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/14/2012
    Law Office
    Law Office | Timothy J. Lopez
    In California, the fact that you were not married to the mother makes no difference to the courts when determining what, if any, parenting plan serves the best interests of the child.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/14/2012
    Law Office of Matthew Z. Martell, P.A.
    Law Office of Matthew Z. Martell, P.A. | Matthew Z. Martell, Esq.
    Yes, it is called "Parental Responsibility" instead of custody and "Time-Sharing" instead of visitation now. You are entitled to have both shared parental responsibility and time-sharing with your child if you are the father of this girl. I recommend that you file a Petition to Establish Paternity, Parental Responsibility, Time-Sharing, and Child Support with the clerk's office. Stipulate to paternity and file a certified copy of the birth certificate with this paternity petition attached to it as Exhibit "A". Once you have that out of the way, the other two issues will become the main issues which need to be resolved. Just understand that they will expect child support to be resolved as well in this legal action. So, be prepared to pay it which is not a bad thing because you don't want to short-change your daughter in life. But she will not be able to restrict you for seeing your daughter after this lawsuit is completed.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 8/14/2012
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller | Jody A. Miller
    You need to file a legitimation and custody petition in the county where the mother lives. Until the father does so, he has no rights to the children.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 8/14/2012
    Diefer Law Group, P.C.
    Diefer Law Group, P.C. | Abel Fernandez
    You still have parental rights and you can file for custody.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/28/2013
    Gregory C. Graf
    Gregory C. Graf | Gregory C. Graf
    File a Petition for allocation of parenting responsibility. Until the Court enters an order to the contrary, the father has the exact same rights to parenting time with the child as the mother.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 8/14/2012
    Law Office of James Lentz
    Law Office of James Lentz | James Lentz
    You go to court. Absent an order of the court, mother is the sole residential parent and sole custodian of the child. Absent an order of the court, she can let you see the child or deny you visitation in her complete discretion. Paying child support makes no difference.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 8/14/2012
    WARM SPRINGS LAW GROUP | Elliott D. Yug
    In Nevada in this situation until a court says otherwise the Mother has primary physical custody of the child. Your best course of action is to file a complaint to establish paternity, custody and child support.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 8/14/2012
    The Davies Law Firm, P.A.
    The Davies Law Firm, P.A. | Robert F. Davies, Esq.
    You go to court and ask for custody. I do not charge any money to meet with most people and go over their situation with them. That way they do not spend money to talk to me, and I am free to take the case or not. Legal problems can not be solve in an email like this. As to your situation, I can explain things in detail in person after we talk. Why don't you come see me. I will meet with you and go over your situation. I will explain what legal issues I see, and what I can do to assist you. I will also give you my best estimate of the cost for attorney's fees. This will be a free consultation. After we talk, you can decide what you would like to do. Give me a call, make an appointment to come see me, and let's get moving on this for you. No charge for the telephone call and no charge for the first office visit.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 8/14/2012
    Law Offices of Cristian Towers | Cristian Towers
    As the child's natural father, you may petition the court for custody or parenting time. Unless it can be demonstrated that having a relationship with this child would not be in your daughter's best interests, you will at least be granted parenting time in some capacity. Getting a change in custody would be a little more difficult and require a more detailed analysis of your circumstances. The court will base its decision on what is in the best interests of the child.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 8/14/2012
    David A. Browde, P.C.
    David A. Browde, P.C. | David Browde
    A father has certain rights, whether or not he ever married the mother. You should consult a local family lawyer and file a petition in Family Court if necessary to arrange visitation or set custody.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 8/14/2012
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