What Are An Unwed Father’s Legal Responsibilities?
Marriage rates have reached an all-time low meaning more children are being born out of wedlock. This issue of paternity is one of the more complex areas of family law.
Many men are curious about what an unwed father’s legal responsibilities are to a child born outside of a marriage. Will he automatically have to pay child support? Is he the legal father of the child?
To answer these paternity questions, in order for the child’s mother to get the suspect father involved legally she will need to file a lawsuit to adjudicate paternity. If a woman does this to you, you will want to get a DNA test to determine if you are the biological father of the child. Actually before you do anything you need to determine if you are the father.
If you are the biological father and you choose not to participate in the child’s life you can attempt to terminate your parental rights to the child voluntarily. You will need to file a petition to terminate your rights, and show the court why it is in the child’s best interest that your rights are terminated. Terminating your parental rights may still keep you on the hook for child support if the child is in the care of a governmental agency, such as Child Protective Services.
If it is determined that you are the biological father of the child, the child’s mother can ask the Office of the Attorney General to issue a child support review order. You will be automatically involved and will be ordered to pay guideline child support and provide health insurance for the child.
An order to pay child support is enforceable by contempt and failure to pay can mean jail time, suspension of your license, interest of the arrearage and attorney fees.
Read related articles for more information on the rights of unwed fathers.
By Robin Klein
The divorce lawyers for men at Cordell and Cordell represent fathers in paternity actions. To schedule an appointment with the Cordell & Cordell Law firm, contact the mens divorce attorney nearest you.