A father is generally the primary biological father of a child under the law. In some instances, the father and child may share equal physical custody or the right to share the responsibility for medical care and education for the child. In addition to the parental bonds of a father to his own children, the father can also have a legal, parental, and social relationship with his child that also carries certain legal obligations. If a father does not have the proper legal standing to protect his parental rights, a father should seek legal counsel immediately so that he has the necessary tools to obtain the fatherhood rights that are his due.
In cases where the mother is clearly not the biological father, a paternity test may be able to determine who the father is. A paternity test is a way for a father who believes he is not the biological father of the child to determine whether or not he is actually the father. Once the results come back, the father should make himself financially responsible for support of the child and arrange custody or joint legal custody as soon as possible.
Another type of fatherhood issue that concerns the father’s rights after he becomes a father is called paternity. Paternity refers to the responsibility that a father has to become a father and fulfill his responsibilities to his children. If the father was not biologically related to the child, he must carry a responsibility for paternity. If the father denies he is the father or explains away his paternity, he is not legally considered to be the father.
Fathers who have been awarded visitation rights or legal paternity through a court order but who are not financially able to provide for the financial needs of the child may seek a citation. A citation can be filed against a father if he fails to meet his obligation to a child or if he does not attend a hearing to determine his obligation to the child. A father who is cited for paternity need not respond to the citation. If the father responds, he usually loses his right to an appeal at the juvenile level. In addition to losing the right to an appeal, if he contests the citation, he may be held in jail until the conclusion of the trial.
Fathers who are neither biological nor adopted can still be involved in the process of establishing paternity. If one of the parents has died, there may be a situation where the surviving father seeks custody of the child. The father must first establish paternity with a test. If the test indicates that he is the father, he is granted legal fatherhood. Some countries also recognize fatherhood by way of statute. In these jurisdictions, if a father has sufficient visitation rights with his children and if the father provides the custodial parent with the necessary financial support, he may be awarded custody.
A father can also be named as the father on his child’s birth certificate if he provides reasonable proof of being the father. Proving one’s paternity is usually done by testing to determine the father’s sperm, which is present in the semen of the male. There are also DNA tests that can determine the identity of the male. If the father has enough evidence to prove his paternity, he can use his birth certificate or a doctor’s records to apply for paternal rights. In some jurisdictions, if the father establishes that he is the biological father of the child, he may also be awarded visitation rights.