Being a new father can be a wonderful thing, especially if you are interested in taking a significant role in your child’s life. However, things can get complicated if you and the mother are not married, and she does not claim you as the father of her child on the child’s birth certificate. Below are some helpful tips for fathers trying to establish their rights to a child.
- When the mother is cooperative, take the easy route. If you and the mother get along, and the fact that you were not placed on the child’s birth certificate was a matter of oversight, then you should have a fairly easy time establishing paternity. Under S.C. Code Ann. Section 63-17-50, you and the mother can sign a verified voluntary acknowledgement of paternity and you will legally become the father of the child.
- When the mother is not cooperative, you’ll have to petition the court to establish paternity. Under S.C. Code Ann. Section 63-17-10(C)(5), if you believe that you are the biological father of a child, you may bring an action before the South Carolina Family Court to establish paternity. You will then be required to provide evidence that supports your claim of paternity. The following are described under S.C. Code Ann. Section 63-17-60 as being considered useful evidence in such cases:
- Genetic testing results for you, the mother, and the child, or the refusal of a party (e.g., the mother) to submit to the genetic testing
- A determination of paternity from another country
- Your signature on the birth certificate
- An expert’s opinion concerning the time of conception
- Keep your cool as you go through this process, and be persistent. In cases where the mother is being difficult, she might do things or be uncooperative because she does not want to share custody of your child with you. She may even do things purposely to upset you. Do not fall for it. You need to present to the court that you are serious and mature and that you want to be this child’s parent.
- Work with an experienced fathers’ rights attorney. Establishing paternity is a legal matter, and you should consult with a family law attorney to make sure that you go about establishing paternity the correct way. An attorney will guide you through this process and can advise you about how to go about providing child support or fighting for custody of your child or visitation rights.
- Keep up with your obligations. If you do establish paternity, you will more than likely also have to go through child support proceedings and child custody/visitation proceedings. If you want to have your best chance at your case turning out the way you want it to, you need to keep up with your obligations. This means paying child support on time and in full (if you have a child support obligation) and attending all of your required court appearances, including any hearings you need to be present at.
Contacting A South Carolina Family Law Attorney
If you are interested in enforcing your rights as a father, contact the family law attorneys at Sarji Law Firm. Our professionals can help you fight for your rights as a father, and can assist you with establishing paternity, paying child support or obtaining custody or visitation rights to your child. Please call us today at 843-323-4341.