Obviously, Louisiana residents do not have to be married in order to have children together. When a relationship is going well, the issue of unwed fathers’ rights might not be a priority. However, if the relationship ends and the parties go their separate ways, these rights and responsibilities become paramount for both parties.
When it comes to custody issues, courts here in Louisiana and around the country consider the best interests of the child. In most cases, this means including both parents in a child’s life. Therefore, the courts often begin with the assumption that a child’s biological father should be granted custody or visitation depending on what will be best for the child. Before any custody decisions can be made, however, the issue of paternity must be resolved.
If unwed parents failed to properly establish paternity at the time of the child’s birth, it will need to be established first. A paternity test will provide the appropriate evidence of who the biological father of the child is. Custody is not the only issue that requires legal paternity. Biological fathers also have a responsibility to financially support their children, and the courts can only enter a child support order once the legal father of the child is established.
Whether an individual is the biological father seeking resolution of custody issues or a mother seeking child support, establishing paternity will be at the center of an unwed couple’s parental issues. Making a legal determination regarding biological fathers’ rights and responsibilities fulfills the courts’ responsibility to look out for the best interests of the child. However, it is the parents’ responsibility to begin the process. For anyone unclear as to how to begin, it might be beneficial to discuss the situation with a family law attorney.
Source: FindLaw, “Child Visitation, Child Custody and Unmarried Fathers“, May 7, 2017