Mothers are granted parental rights when they give birth. Fathers can establish paternity (parental rights) in a number of the ways. The easiest method is by being married to the mother at the time of the birth or signing a document that affirmatively established fatherhood. But what can unmarried fathers do who were not present at the birth and did not establish paternity? Do they have any visitation or custody rights? This post will go over how they can establish those rights.
There are two paths that you can take. If you are and the mother are able to cooperate, then you can work with her to establish custody rights and paternity. This is the simplest solution. If you and the mother are unable to cooperate, then you will have to try to get a court order.
If you are able to work with the mother, then you would work out a parenting plan with her. The parenting plan lays out the plan that both parents will use to raise the child. It can be very detailed or it can be broad. It is up to you. While you are working on the parenting plan, you will need to establish paternity. Once paternity is established, you can jointly submit the parenting plan and that will form the basis for the custody arrangement.
If you are seeking a modification to your child custody arrangement, you may want to sit down with an attorney. As discussed previously, the court will only base its decision on what is best for the child; not on your or your child's other parent's preference. The legal issues surrounding child custody are complex. A lawyer can help you navigate this process.