When a child is born out of wedlock, it can cause some serious issues for the father. While maternity is easily recognized at birth, paternity is something that is not established until several procedural steps are taken. This can cause fathers in Tennessee to have no rights to their children until the proper paperwork is filed and officially accepted.
More children are being born to couples who are choosing not to get married. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, more than 40 percent of children are currently born to unmarried couples.
This means that the lack of rights that unmarried fathers often experience should be addressed. Those fathers without paternity over a child must rely on the mother to give them access to their shared child until paternity is established.
In order to establish paternity, a father can take several steps. The easiest way for a man to be recognized as the father is to be listed on the birth certificate as such. If the mother refuses to put your name on the certificate as the child's father, you can fill out a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form, which is available at the hospital. You can sign this at the time of the child's birth, if necessary.
Another option to establish paternity involves a public administrative group, such as the state's child support enforcement agency. Administrative agents can be helpful when filling out forms or requesting a DNA test to prove that you are the father of the child.
If the relationship between you and the mother of your child is less than amicable, a court order may be necessary. By filing a petition for paternity and child custody with the courts, a father can force a mother to bring a child in for a paternity test. If paternity is established in this manner, courts will require the couple to create a parenting plan and a custody agreement for the child.
In a society with too many absent fathers, we should be doing more to respect the rights of fathers who want to do the right thing and be a nurturing presence in their children's lives.
Source: Huffington Post, "The Perils of Paternity: What Unwed Fathers Need to Know," Joseph E. Cordell, June 15, 2012