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Are unmarried fathers at a disadvantage in family court

Fathers have seemingly had a tough time in family court, particularly unmarried fathers seeking to establish custody and parenting time. Indeed, the law says that both men and women are on equal footing before a family court judge, but some people believe that women have a considerable advantage.

While such an advantage is speculative, many unmarried fathers operate under the false assumption that if they are present at the birth, or have their names present on the birth certificate, that they automatically have rights to custody and parenting time. The reality is that unmarried fathers must petition the court for these rights.  

To further complicate things, men in these positions may have unresolved issues with their significant others that prevent them from having time with their children. Moreover, many are not in the position financially to pursue these rights. As such, they may go on without seeing their children or fighting for custody.

When compared to married fathers who are presumed to be biological parents and thus entitled to custody and parenting time, unmarried fathers are in fact at a disadvantage because of the additional requirements they must satisfy.

So despite the disadvantage, unmarried fathers can obtain custody and parenting time. It may take a great deal of time, but being an influence in a child’s life is worth the time invested into a relationship. So if you are an unmarried father and are being denied parenting time and are not being included on important decisions in your child’s life, and experienced family law attorney can help. 

Source: “What unmarried fathers have to worry about,” Claire Huntington, June 13, 2014

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