It is becoming increasingly common for the parents of a child to be unmarried. Parents might initially intend to be an unmarried couple raising their child together; however, the problem is that if the relationship disintegrates, the father has less rights and parental security than a father who is married to the mother and intends to get a divorce.
Therefore, as an unmarried father, it is important to be vigilant and ensure that you know how the legal system works so that you can continue to have a good relationship with your child.
Make sure that you establish paternity
The most crucial part of being an unmarried father is to establish paternity legally. This is assumed when a father is married to the mother. But if a father is unmarried, then a father must establish it either by listing himself on the child's birth certificate or by conducting a DNA test.
Get custody rights
If you are established as the father of the child, then you have a legal right to custody of the child unless there is reason to suggest that visitation would not be in the child's interests. For example, the courts might deny visitation if you have a violent criminal charge. Otherwise, you should work with the courts and the other parent to establish a parenting and visitation plan.
Stand up for yourself
As an unmarried father, you can sometimes be at a disadvantage in the legal system. However if you stand up for your rights to have a relationship with your child, you will likely be able to succeed eventually.
Source: The Spruce, "Things an Unwed Father Needs to Know," accessed Nov. 10, 2017