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What Rights Do I Have as A Baby Daddy?

Feb. 21, 2022

First, this post only applies to you if you are on the child's birth certificate. Hint, if you were at the hospital when the child was born, you were probably on speaking terms with mom, and you filled out an affidavit of paternity and so did she.

If the father is on the birth certificate he has a legal presumption that he is indeed the father. Keep in mind the following question. What proof (absent a court order) does any parent have to prove they have custody of their children? The most common proof is a copy of the birth certificate. No one would argue that a married father listed on the birth certificate has a right to the physical custody of his child as much as a married mother would have the same rights to the physical custody of her child. We make a presumption that the parents listed on the birth certificate are the parents of the child. Thus they both have rights to the legal and physical custody of the child. What makes it different for an unwed father that is listed on the birth certificate? Remember, the mother has already sworn in her affidavit for paternity that the person she listed in her affidavit for paternity for the birth certificate is the father. Should she now be allowed to disavow that affidavit simply because they are no longer together? Should that change of heart (without judicial intervention) change a father’s legal rights? The unwed father has rights to legal and physical custody of his children when he has been listed as the father on the birth certificate absent a court order to the contrary. These rights are equal to the mother, in theory. In the real world, it may take court intervention to enforce those rights.

If the father is not on the birth certificate.

Keep in mind that if he is not listed as the father on the birth certificate then the father would have to file a paternity action to get his rights to custody established. I believe this subject will be seen differently from circuit to circuit and perhaps judge to judge. Therefore, I would consult a family law attorney that practices in the county that would have jurisdiction over your child(ren).