It has become increasingly common for couples to live together and have children without ever getting married. There are many reasons why people may choose not to marry. Perhaps they had a previous marriage fail and don’t want to go through the hassle of divorce again. Maybe they are non-religious and don’t see any legal benefits from marriage. Some people just don’t think marriage matters.
Whatever the reason, if you are the father of children and are not married to the mother, you need to protect yourself and your relationship with your children. If the relationship between you and your significant other deteriorates, she could try to deny your paternal rights to visitation and leave you cut off from your children.
You have the right to establish paternity of your children
If you have a good relationship with the mother of your children, she may agree to execute a legal document, called an Acknowledgment of Paternity form. These forms must be signed by both parents voluntarily.
However, if the mother of your children has negative feelings toward you, this could prove difficult. If she refuses to sign the form and did not list you on the birth certificate, you will have to take additional steps to establish yourself as the father.
Genetic testing is an important first step
You can ask the courts to issue a court order for genetic testing. Basically, they will compare your DNA to that of your children to determine through the use of science if you have a biological relationship to the children.
Even if your former partner does not want to confirm the paternity of the child(ren), the courts can compel her to present the children for testing. It’s important to know that although a test can prove a biological relationship, you will still need to take steps with the courts to legally establish paternity.
You can ask for the right to spend time with your child
Once you have established a biological relationship with the children, you can assert your rights as a father. The courts in Nebraska want to make decisions in the best interests of the children involved. Generally, that will mean having a positive and ongoing relationship with both parents following divorce. Many single mothers will require child support from the father of the children to afford all the things the children will need in life.
Asking the courts to legally recognize your relationship with the children, assign child support if appropriate and arrange for visitation or shared custody is the best way to be an amazing father. You can be present for all the important times and help support your children as they grow and mature. Just because you never married their mother doesn’t mean you can’t be a wonderful, devoted dad.