Dec 28, 2021

What Are the Parental Rights of Unmarried Fathers?

A man who is a biological parent has the right to his child even if he wasn’t married to the birth mother. This gives him the right to parent a child or sustain a relationship with them. However, their parental rights can become an issue when it comes to seeking visitation rights, child custody, or when the mother decides to put the child up for adoption.

Several cases in the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of giving rights to unmarried fathers, particularly when they have established a substantial relationship with their child. For the court, a biological connection is sufficient for a father to want to establish a relationship with his child. The court considers the move a commitment to parental responsibilities.

“Father” as Defined by The State

There is no universal definition in statutes for “father” in the US. However, there are different terms used to describe the relationship between an unmarried man and his child.

  • “putative father” – describes a man who is allegedly a child’s biological father but whose paternity has not been established through legal means
  • “alleged father” – refers to a man who alleges to be the genetic father of a child but whose paternity still needs to be determined
  • “acknowledged father” – a man who has established a parent-child relationship by signing an acknowledgment of paternity
  • “Adjudicated father” – refers to a man ruled by the court to be a child’s father
  • “presumed father” – describes a man who is recognized as a child’s father until proven otherwise

A man may also be considered as a child’s father if:

  • he acknowledged being the father in writing
  • he is obligated to provide the child with support voluntary or through a court order
  • he lived with the child when they were a minor
  • he openly claimed the child as his biological offspring

Establishing Paternity

Married couples use documentation to prove their union but unmarried couples don’t have that luxury. But there are still ways for men to prove paternity. In Texas, a man can acknowledge he is a child’s father through a parent registry. Going through this process ensures that an unmarried father has rights to his child.

This allows a man to be notified regarding petitions for adoption and receive notice of court proceedings involving the child. He will also be informed of an attempt to terminate his parental rights.

Another means of establishing paternity involves going to court to file an acknowledgment or affidavit of paternity. A man can also acknowledge paternity by allowing his name to be put in the child’s birth certificate.

By acknowledging a child through legal means, a father can seek visitation rights and may be asked to provide financial support.

Revoking Paternity

Some states allow a man to revoke paternity, including Texas. This is true of putative fathers, who can do this 60 days after the effective date of acknowledgment especially if genetic tests prove that the child isn’t biologically their own.

An unmarried father has every right to his child, even if he wasn’t married to the birth mother. Since problems can arise, a man can choose one of the different ways to establish paternity. Otherwise, he can also revoke it if proven not to be the biological father.

The Law Office of Jon R. Boyd practice Family and Probate Law and has two offices located in Fort Worth and Fort Worth, Texas. We‘re happy to offer our services here and to the surrounding areas: Fort Worth, Frisco, Allen, McKinney, Lewisville, Denton, The Colony, Little Elm, Carrollton, Richardson, Addison, Dallas or Fort Worth