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As of May 29, 2020, Dauphin County, where our office is located, has moved from Red to Yellow status. Our office will re-open on June 1, 2020. Until further notice, Stay Safe Guidelines will be followed, including safe social distancing (6 feet), cleaning after each client and the wearing of masks by employees and clients at all times while in our office. People who are ill and those without masks will not be permitted entry into our office.

How unmarried fathers can address child-related family law issues

Some aspects of a Pennsylvania family law case are more difficult than others. Child-related concerns are a primary example. This is true whether it is child custody, child support, visitation or paternity. Often, this is viewed from the mother’s perspective. Despite that, the father also has rights and should be aware of them.

Steps an unwed father can take in a family law case

Unwed fathers face certain obstacles in a child-related dispute. First, it is imperative to establish paternity. It can be accomplished when the baby is born with the father’s name listed on the birth certificate. If that cannot be done, then the father can fill out a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form. In acrimonious cases where the mother is disputing the father’s claim of paternity, the father can have a paternity test or contact state agencies for assistance.

Custody is also a contentious topic. Fathers who have established paternity will have the same custody rights as if the parents were married. Some couples are unmarried but reside together, so this is not a problem. If there is a custody case, the father must legally pursue custody and visitation. That can vary from shared custody, joint custody and, in specific cases, full legal custody. The father will also be responsible for paying child support. There are guidelines to determine how much will be paid. That includes living arrangements, food, education, medical care, extracurricular activities and more. These are all key aspects of parental rights.

Unwed fathers should consider having help in a family law case

These challenges can arise whether the parents are together in a committed relationship or not. For fathers who are worried that they might not have a legal right to their child, it is important to remember that they should not take matters into their own hands, nor should they simply allow the mother to have custody without asserting their position. From the outset, it is wise to understand the law and take the proper steps. Having professional guidance can be critical to achieving a positive result.