Fathers may have a tough time just being fathers, as parenting is arguably the toughest job that doesn’t pay anything. However, for unmarried fathers, the road can be exceptionally difficult if they are hopelessly embroiled in petty disputes with the child’s mother, mom has strict standards that dad simply can’t live up to, or the mother has moved to a different state.
If these scenarios describe your situation, there are a number of things that can be done to remedy your situation.
Know your order – Most child support orders will identify what type of custody is held by each parent (e.g. sole physical custody or joint physical custody). If your order does not specify custody or parenting time, it may be time to ask the court to modify the order so that these issues can be addressed.
Get a custody and parenting time order – Unmarried fathers are commonly under the impression that they have custody rights because they signed a recognition of parentage or have their names listed on the child’s birth certificate. The reality is that this only identifies a man as a potential biological father. Fathers who are unmarried to the child’s mother at the time of birth must take the extra step of obtaining a court order that confers parenting and custody rights.
Don’t give up – Ideally, you and mom will reach an agreement on custody and parenting time and will move on with life. Unfortunately, getting custody rights is a process, and it does not happen overnight. So while you may not get the parenting time you deserve at the outset, staying persistent will yield the ultimate reward before you know it.
The preceding is not legal advice. If you have additional questions about establishing custody and parenting time, an experienced family law attorney can help.