According to recent statistics, births to unwed mothers reached an all-time high of about 40 percent. This is a trend that began years before. More than three-quarters of these women were 20 or older. According to Duke University’s Philip Morgan, a legal researcher, for a variety of reasons, it’s become more acceptable for women to have babies without a husband.
With out-of-wedlock birth rates this high, many unmarried fathers falsely assume that they can avoid the court system when they were not married to the mother. However, this is predominately untrue. Just like those who file for divorce need a parenting plan to determine their custody rights, unmarried fathers need to do the same.
An unmarried father can put himself in the same position as a father who went through a divorce and obtain a family court custody plan if they simply retain an attorney experienced in handling visitation cases for unmarried fathers. If unmarried fathers fail to do this, they unfortunately put themselves in a position where they might be paying child support, yet they have no physical custody rights or any ability to help make decisions on behalf of their child.
While many consider family lawyers to be divorce lawyers, the reality is that with out-of-wedlock birth rates at forty-percent, paternity cases are becoming almost as common as divorce cases. While many unmarried fathers feel like they should try to work out custody with the mother without a custody order, this is just not practical in the vast majority of cases. Just like most divorcing parents could not work out custody without a court order, unmarried fathers should not assume that things can work any differently for them.
Additionally, the sooner an unmarried father goes to court to get a custody order, very often this will look positive in the eyes of the court because it helps show that the unmarried father is interested in being an active participate in their child’s life. It is much better in most cases to file a paternity case than to wait for an egregious, administrative child support order to be put in place in which the father cannot pay and then they are given a “dead beat dad label” by the time they finally get to court to establish their custody rights because they are behind in child support payments.
If you are unmarried father, and want to seek a free consultation about how paternity cases work, you can call Stange Law Firm at 314-963-4700 to setup a free consultation.