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Unwed fathers fight for paternity rights and access to children

During the 1950s, the traditional American family consisted of a father, mother and two to three children. Today, a so-called traditional American family is much more difficult to define or describe. A family may consist of two married men who adopt a child or two unmarried women who choose to have a child via a sperm donor. There are also more couples having children out of wedlock than ever. Given the changing landscape of what constitutes as a traditional family, family courts around the country must also change how they view and approach issues related to parental rights.

The actor Jason Patric is perhaps best known for his depiction as a smoldering vampire in the 1980s cult classic, The Lost Boys and for once dating actress Julia Roberts. More recently, however, the 48-year-old Patric has been in the news related to his struggles to obtain paternity rights to his 4-year-old biological son, Gus.

Patric and Gus' mother, Danielle Schreiber, were previously involved in a romantic relationship when they attempted, yet failed, to conceive a child on their own. Eventually the two split up, but Patric agreed to provide sperm when Schreiber sought to conceive a child artificially in 2009. At that time, Schreiber listed both herself and Patric as "intended parents", a confirmation, Patric contends, of the couple's intent to raise the child together.

Patric attended Gus' birth and he and Schreiber even lived together for a time after the boy turned one. Shortly thereafter, however, Schreiber took steps to cut Patric out of the little boy's life and filed for a restraining order against Patric.

Since that time, Patric has filed lawsuits to gain paternity and child custody rights to his son. Complicated by the way in which the boy was conceived, this case has sparked media attention and fury from both single mothers and fathers who argue that their parental rights are not being recognized.

Unwed fathers in Minnesota often face many challenges when attempting to gain paternity rights. Men who have fathered a child out of wedlock and wish to take an active role in the child's life should not be denied that right. Unwed fathers would be wise to contact an attorney who handles matters related to paternity rights and child custody.

Source: CNN, "When is 'Daddy' more than DNA?," Ann O'Neill, June 18, 2014

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