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The rights of unwed fathers

Unwed fathers in Georgia and elsewhere face a number of challenges when they attempt to assert their parental rights. The family courts can be difficult to navigate, and it may hard for an individual to gain fathers' rights.

Many unwed fathers don't realize that signing the child's birth certificate doesn't guarantee he will have any rights to see the child. There still may be an obligation to pay child support, but it takes a court order for him to be confirmed as the father with rights to time with the child. Another little understood fact is if the mother applies for any government aid, she is required to name the child's father. Failure to disclose the father's identity may disqualify her from assistance. Once this state has this information, it will initiate an action against the father to ensure that he is also providing support for the child.

Unwed fathers also need to understand that it is possible to receive credit for child support payments made prior to a court order. This does require proof such as cancelled checks or receipts; otherwise, the prior payments could be deemed merely gifts. It should be noted that the payment of child support has nothing to do with the right to spend time with the child. Payment of support does not automatically confer visitation rights, which must be specifically spelled out in a court order.

Parental rights of an unmarried father may be complicated. An unwed father who wishes to pursue his rights for visitation may wish to allow a family law attorney review the case. The attorney may be able to advise him of the procedures that are necessary to follow.

Source: ABC Action News, "Five important things that unwed fathers need to know ", Yvette harrell, October 08, 2013

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