How unwed fathers can claim custodial rights

Griffin Law, PLLC
Aug 13, 2021

For fathers going through a North Carolina divorce, custody matters are among the issues typically addressed. However, if you and your child’s mother were not married before you split, spending time with your child can become challenging if your ex refuses visitation. If you want custodial rights, establishing paternity is the first step.

According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, genetic testing canconfirm paternityif either the mom or dad has doubts. It also identifies you as the child’s father for legal purposes, with all of the rights and responsibilities that come with it.

Why establish paternity?

Children benefit emotionally when they have close bonds with both parents. The father’s name automatically goes on the birth certificate if the parents are legally married at the time of the birth. However, you have no legal custody claim if you were not married when your child was born, and your name isn’t on the birth certificate. Proving a legal relationship ensures you can address visitation or custody issues.

Your child may also benefit financially beyond possible child support amounts. Once legally confirmed, he may have access to your social security, military and death and insurance benefits.

Are home DNA kits accurate?

DNA tests use the material swabbed from the inside of the mouth, making them quick and painless. Although they may be accurate, the court does not accept results obtained from at-home test kits as proof of paternity. It requires proof that the samples provided come from you and your child. Qualified DNA collectors take samples in a clean environment and ensure the material remains untainted. They also follow a process that safeguards the results and an unbroken chain of custody required by the court.

You can prepare for the court by ensuring your child has space specifically for them in your home and answering questions about your child’s healthcare, education and overall well-being. Determine how much time you can realistically spend with him and address it inthe parenting plan. This may help the court look favorably on your custody request.

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