Barbara J. Katzenberg, Attorney at Law

Unmarried fathers may successfully obtain child custody

Unmarried fathers in Massachusetts and other states have rights, but many find it difficult to have those rights recognized. An unmarried father in another state shared his struggle to be awarded custody of his child after the mother gave the child up for adoption. He was ultimately awarded child custody, but it was a road full of stumbling blocks.

He said he was in a very loving relationship, and he was delighted when his girlfriend became pregnant. However, when her parents discovered that he was of a different race, they refused him access to their daughter. He asserts that the parents convinced their daughter to give the baby up for adoption. He was apparently not advised of the baby's birth. Fortunately, some states allow unmarried fathers to register as a putative father before the birth of their babies, and the state then has to inform the father when the mother initiates adoption plans.

This man could show records of text messages between him and the baby's mother, showing his support and concern for the mother's health. This evidence, along with his registration as a putative father, gave him a viable claim for child custody. To support a claim for child custody, unmarried fathers typically have to show personal and financial support throughout the pregnancy. 

This father's child custody battle had a happy ending, but many fathers may not even be aware of their options. Massachusetts unmarried fathers, including those who believe a woman is pregnant with their child, may benefit from consulting with an experienced family law attorney concerning their legal rights and to determine what steps may be appropriate to seek enforcement. A lawyer will provide support and guidance throughout any family court proceedings and assist fathers in their quests to remain a part of their children's lives.

Source: slate.com, "The System for Establishing a Father's Rights Hurts Both Men And Women", Amanda Marcotte, Accessed on July 10, 2015

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