When a child is born out of wedlock, born to parents that are not married, then the mother has all custodial rights.
A father’s name being on the birth certificate or the parents signing documents at the hospital is not legally sufficient for the law to recognize the father as the child(ren)’s legal father. The father must initiate a legitimation action with the court system.
The legitimation petition asks the Court to recognize the father as the biological and legal father of the child(ren) and grant him custody rights. Often genetic testing is required to confirm paternity regardless of whether the mother confirms paternity. The mother may object to the legitimation if certain circumstances are present.
However, the courts encourage both parents to be active in a child’s life and hold that having involved parents is in the child(ren)’s best interests. Once the legitimation is finalized, the petitioner is recognized as the legal and biological father of the child(ren), the child(ren) are capable of inheriting from the father, custody rights are established, and child support is determined.
Legitimation actions are similar to divorce actions in that a parenting plan and child support worksheet are created, however an equitable division of property is not a factor. Whether you are the father petitioning for custody rights or the mother wanting representation in a legitimation action, I can guide you through the issues and advise you as what is in your and your child(ren)’s best interests.