It is understandable that you may be intimidated by the prospect of seeking court intervention to have your rights to custody and parenting time recognized. After all, you may think that there is an inherent bias against men in family court. While some unscrupulous moms may want you to believe this myth, it is simply not true. As a father, you do have rights when it comes to making parenting decisions. With unmarried fathers, however, there is a specific process that must be followed to have these rights recognized.
If you are an unmarried father, you must petition the court to obtain a court order to secure legal and/or physical custody, as well as rights to parenting time. This is because an unmarried mother is automatically granted sole legal and sole physical custody of a child born out of wedlock. The process generally begins with a paternity lawsuit (to show that the putative father is the biological father of the child). This issue is commonly resolved through a paternity test.
As for how legal and physical custody should be shared, Missouri family court judges determine these by analyzing the facts under a set of factors known as “the best interests of the child” standard. This is where the guidance of an experienced family law attorney can be helpful.
Getting custody and parenting time may not be quick and easy, but there are a bounty of rewards makes it worth the effort.
The preceding is not legal advice. If you have questions about your individual situation, an experienced family law lawyer can help.