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What are your rights as an unwed father?

You want to have a good time with your child. You are probably imagining baseball games and campouts, father-daughter dances or father-son fish fries.

However, as an unmarried father, what rights do you have? Is there a way to gain more time with your child? Do you have the option of custody or visitation rights? You want to claim your child and get to know him or her. How do you make this happen?

Putative Father Registry

Louisiana is one of the few states with a Putative Father Registry. This registry allows a man who wants to declare he is the father of the child to record his name and address. The registry will notify you of any court hearings concerning your child.

Acknowledgment of Paternity: Child Born Outside of Marriage

There is an Acknowledgment of Paternity of a child born outside of marriage and one for a child born of the marriage. The Child Born Outside of Marriage affidavit adds the biological father to a child’s birth certificate. It stipulates the mother was not married at the time or within 300 days of the birth. This is a legal document. Both parents must sign and have it notarized.


According to Louisiana law, you have a constitutional right to your child when you establish a substantial relationship. A substantial relationship means you are emotionally and financially a part of your child’s life. The court’s decision of custody factors in the child’s best interests, including well-being and safety.


Visitation depends on the custody arrangement. For example, in an 80/20 schedule, one parent has more time with the child than the other parent. Visitation can allow several options such as alternating weekends, every third weekend, or first, third and fifth weekends.

The mother is usually the first choice of the courts as the primary caregiver. You have options as the biological father, though. Claim your child and demand your rights to custody and visitation.

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