Child Support and the unwed Parents…
In many states, the biological fathers of children born to unmarried parents have few or no rights unless they take legal steps to ask for them. The law usually assumes that a man is a child’s father only if he was married to the mother when the child was born. Otherwise, he must prove that he is the father before the court will recognize his relationship to the child. Laws from state to state vary but in most cases, the mother has full legal and physical custody from the time the child is born. Legal custody means a single mother can make all decisions on the child’s behalf and physical custody means the child lives with her. Unless an unmarried father of the child takes steps to establish his paternity, he will no custodial rights or visitation rights with the child.
The father of a child born out of wedlock must take two legal actions to establish his paternal rights. First, he must prove that he’s the biological father; this is done through a paternity test. Then he must ask the court to grant him visitation rights or custody. A father can also acknowledge paternity by signing an acknowledgment at the time of the baby’s birth or shortly afterward.
After a court has established paternity or a man has acknowledged it, the father has the same responsibility to support the child financially as he would if he were married to the child’s mother. Once paternity is established, the mother can ask the court to order the father to pay child support. The amount of child support to be paid usually depends on the father’s income and guidelines established by state law. However, the judge has some discretion to adjust the amount depending on the circumstances of the case.
If the mother of the child puts the child up for adoption, the father can take a paternity test and if the results are positive, he can take the required states to request and gain custody of the child himself.