A father's consistent and positive relationship with his child is beneficial to both the child and the father. In Wheat Ridge, Colorado, it is understandable that many unwed fathers pursue paternity because they love their children. However, common misconceptions can prevent a father from establishing paternity over his child.
First, signing a birth certificate as the father of the child does not automatically designate an unwed father as a legal parent. Only a family law court can affirm the paternity of an unwed father, although he does need to provide child support. To confirm the relationship between the father and the child, the father should request a paternity test. Second, even if the mother does not ask for support from the father, the government has the prerogative to pursue a child support action against the father.
Third, litigants in the family court - the mother and the father - must have some sort of arrangement regarding visitation and custody, which should be established prior to their court appearance. However, if the father takes legal action to establish his rights as the father, visitation and child custody may be dictated by the mother's decision. Even before the court order is finalized, any form of child support will probably be considered and can be credited to the father by the court.
Finally, paying child support does guarantee that the father can see and spend time with his child. Visitation and child custody must be settled in the court before an unwed father can enjoy those rights.
Source: ABC Action News, "Five important things that unwed fathers need to know," Yvette Harrell, Oct. 8, 2013