Recent statistics show that approximately four out of every ten children are born out-of-wedlock. Many unmarried fathers end up being put on the birth certificate as the father. Many, however, over-estimate what being on the birth certificate really means.
Certainly the laws can vary by state. Thus, it’s vital that a party check with an attorney who is licensed and competent to practice law in their jurisdiction.
However, in a general sense, being on the birth certificate does not equate to enforceable rights. It might result in a legal finding, or presumption, that the unmarried father is the biological father.
But nowhere on any birth certificate does it have a custody schedule. It does not list what days of the week the father is to have physical custody of the child. It also does not list the holidays and summer time the father gets with the child. In different states, this is referred to often as either physical custody or parenting time.
Birth certificates also do not denote who gets to make decisions for the child. In other words, no birth certificate explains how decisions are made as it relates to medical, educational, extracurricular or religious based decisions. In different states, this is referred to often as either legal custody or allocation of parental responsibilities.
It is true that it is a positive to be on the birth certificate for fathers who want to be active participants in the life of their child. But men still need to take extra steps when they have fathered a child out-of-wedock to have enforceable rights.
The extra step involves filing a case under the Uniform Parentage Act (commonly referred to as a “paternity” case). In paternity cases, courts can specifically address the issues referenced above and issue a court order/judgment to provide an enforceable judgment. When unmarried fathers file a paternity case, they end up with a parenting plan/custody schedule just like a father who went through a divorce.
If you need help with a paternity case, you can contact Stange Law Firm, PC at 855-805-0595.