Back in August we discussed how unwed fathers can establish paternity and legal rights to a child. As we discussed in our post, unwed fathers have no legal rights to a biological child unless and until they go through the legal process of establishing paternity. Once paternity has been established, either voluntarily by both parents or by a court order, a father may file a petition seeking child custody or visitation rights.
If a mother isn't sure who's the biological father of her child -- or if the alleged father doesn't agree -- biological paternity can be determined relatively easily via DNA test. When done correctly, these tests are so accurate that they are accepted as proof of paternity in court.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, during 2012, nearly 41 percent of babies born in the U.S. were born to unwed mothers. These babies were not only born to teen mothers, but also to women in their late 20s and 30s who have a long-term partner to whom they are simply not legally married. Regardless of the circumstance, any man who is not married to the mother of his child is advised to take steps to establish paternity.
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.
This Sunday, millions of fathers across the U.S. will celebrate Father's Day. The relationship between a father and son or daughter is a special one for which there is no substitute. In the case of divorced fathers, today many are awarded joint physical and legal custody of a child or children. Additionally, many fathers financially support and provide for their child through monthly child support payments.