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Rights of Unwed Fathers in South Carolina

What rights does an unwed father have? Until paternity is legally established, the unwed father has zero rights toward his child. This may come as a surprise to many unmarried parents in South Carolina but as a matter of fact, this is how it is across the country. Fortunately, an unwed father can invoke his parental rights if he goes through the proper legal procedures, which involves establishing paternity. So, all hope is not lost.

“What does it mean to establish paternity?” It means to determine who a child’s legal father is. A man can be a child’s biological father, but he is not the child’s legal father unless he voluntarily acknowledges paternity at the hospital after the child’s birth or through a court-ordered paternity test.

Paternity Establishment & Fathers’ Rights

Suppose a child is born and the father wants to be involved in his child’s life; however, he only had a brief relationship with the child’s mother, or they were together for some time, but she wanted to raise the child on her own. Or, perhaps the mother is married to another man, who is not the child’s father. Regardless of the situation, an unwed father does not have parental rights until paternity is established.

If the mother wants to raise the child on her own but the biological father has other ideas, he can ask the court for a DNA test. If the test comes back as a positive match, the father can then ask the court to make orders for child custody and visitation.

While there is no guarantee that a biological will get custody, in most situations he will get reasonable visitation. Occasionally, a father can end up with custody. If the mother has a substance abuse problem or has other issues that prevent her from raising her child in a safe and loving environment, the odds may be in the father’s favor.

Related: Paternity Actions in South Carolina

Paternity & a Father’s Responsibilities

All children deserve to have two loving parents in their lives, whether they’re married or not, and to be financially supported by both parents. Once paternity is confirmed through a paternity acknowledgment or a DNA test, the biological, legal father will start having to pay child support, which is not a bad thing because it benefits the child. It allows the child to enjoy a better quality of life.

Need assistance with a paternity, child custody or support case in Columbia, South Carolina? To get started, contact Masella Law Firm, P.A. today.