In most states, both parents of a child have equal rights and responsibilities for supporting and raising a child. When a child is born in wedlock, the law automatically recognizes the husband as being the father. In the case of a child born out of wedlock, paternity can be established either by the father's acknowledgment or by a court proceeding. The mother has the right to file a petition with the court on behalf of the child in order to establish paternity. The legal father is generally then required by the court to provide child support. In most states, courts won't allow parents to agree that the father not be required to pay child support, since the child's need for support is regarded as being more important than the mother's desire not to request payment from the father. If a father 'quits' the family and has no contact with his child for a certain period of time, generally one or two years, the mother may petition the court to terminate the rights of the biological father. If the court finds it to be in the best interest of the child, the court can agree to an adoption without the consent of the biological father. In a domestic violence or abuse situation, it's the mother's right to apply for a restraining order or an injunction whereby the court may force the father to stay away from the child, or forbid unsupervised contact for a certain period of time. For more information about paternity issues and mother's rights, contact an attorney.