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Father’s Day…it comes around every June and is supposed to be the one day that every father gets to enjoy “his” day. But, what happens when you are single and have a child? How many Father’s Day celebrations have come and gone with you sitting at home in front of the TV simply missing your children?
A father that goes through divorce, at least in most cases, has the courts behind him concerning his ability to spend time with the children. But, when a child is born out of wedlock, single fathers often find themselves at the mercy of the child’s mother. In more cases than we care to think of, the unmarried dad’s rights are simply ignored.
Today, more and more couples are foregoing marriage and simply living together. It is actually estimated that 40 percent of all children are born out of wedlock! When breakups happen in these cases, the father is merely the “alleged” father and is so only in his eyes. Without a paternity test, if the mother decides she does not want him to see the kids, he doesn’t see the kids.
So, how can an unwed father protect his rights to see his child?
- Have your name put on the birth certificate. This may sound like something that would be automatic, but you would be surprised at the amount of times this space is left blank when the mother fills out the forms at the hospital. If your child is unborn, be sure to ask for a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (called a VAP form), at the hospital when the child is born.
- If you are getting resistance from the mother, you will need to file through government agencies to “officially” prove your paternity. Agencies such as Child Support Enforcement will be very helpful. It may come down to requiring a DNA test, which will obviously help your case as the actual father of the child.
- Another course of action to go to family court. Here you can file a petition for paternity and child custody. The courts will mandate a paternity test to prove whether or not you are the father of the child.
As the father, even though you may not realize it, you have rights to be involved in your child’s life. Decisions such as schooling, religion, and medical care are all decisions in which you should be involved. If the mother of your child is purposely preventing you from seeing your child and being involved in his or her life, it probably time to take the battle to court so you can protect your rights as a father.