Unwed fathers in Tennessee have rights to their children. There are certain steps that are important to take when a father wants to get custody of his child.
If a child is born to unwed parents, the mother automatically gets custody. The father, on the other hand, is required to prove that he is, indeed, the father. This means establishing paternity is necessary. It gives him the opportunity to gain child custody and visitation rights.
Paternity can be established either through a document called “Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity” at the hospital upon the child’s birth or through a DNA test. If the DNA test proves that the man is the biological father of the child, he can then file a petition with the family court for custody and visitation.
Getting child custody and visitation
The court decides which parent can gain custody of the child or if both are worthy of it. However, when a mother and father come to an agreement about joint physical custody, the court will usually grant it as it’s encouraged to have a strong familial relationship. Even if the parents are not married, the first consideration of the court is what’s in the best interests of the child. One of the factors that the court considers is that the child benefits from maintaining a relationship with the father.
It’s rare for fathers to be granted sole custody. However, if a father has been the primary parent and can prove that the mother of his child is unfit such as being a danger to the child, the court might grant him sole custody.
Fathers should work with the mothers of their children to create a parenting plan. If they can come up with an agreement, the court will approve it. However, if the parents are unable to reach an agreement, the court will decide on on that it deems fair.