Visitation/custody/support rights

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Updated: 4/13/2007 3:35 pm
When a child is born to parents who aren't married, the father must sign a 'voluntary statement of paternity' to establish that he is the child's father. If a father doesn't establish paternity, he has no legal right to seek custody of the child or visitation privileges. Without establishing paternity, the child's mother has no legal right to seek child support payments from the alleged father. If the parents wish to avoid going to court in the future, they may choose to sign a voluntary statement of paternity when the child is born. This places both the mother's and father's names on the child's birth certificate, and makes both of the parents legally responsible for their child. If the parents don't live together, the father may be ordered to pay child support. He may also receive sole or joint custody of the child, or have visitation privileges. If a statement of paternity isn't signed, one or both parents may contact their county child support agency to start a paternity action. If the court finds a man to be a child's father, paternity is established and visitation, custody, and child support issues are decided.

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