In the state of Tennessee, unmarried fathers do not have any rights to their children until they have been legally established as the father in the family courts. This means that the mother has sole decision-making power as to what happens with the children and when you are allowed to see them. It is up to the father to go through the process of establishing their rights to be able to get things like court-ordered visitation or even joint custody.
If you are a Tennessee father and you are wondering what your rights are, contact our law firm today. It is important to know what you are entitled to and how to pursue those rights through the family court system.
What Rights Do Married Fathers Have?
Married fathers have more inherent rights than unmarried fathers. That is because any child that is born during a marriage is legally assumed to be the child of the husband. That means the father does not have to go through the same process of establishing paternity, which is the first step to pursuing a custody case or visitation rights. Until court-ordered custody has been established and a visitation schedule put in place, married fathers have the same rights to the children as the mothers.
Do the Family Courts Favor the Mother?
It is a common belief that the family courts favor the mother when it comes to child custody cases, and in the past, this was true. Decades ago, mothers were more likely to be the stay-at-home parent or the primary caregiver, which is why they were often awarded more time with the children after a divorce. However, the modern court system recognizes that children need both parents and puts the best interests of the child at the forefront of any decision.
How Do I File for Custody?
If you were never married to the mother of your child, the first step to filing for custody is to establish paternity, either through a voluntary acknowledgment or a court-ordered paternity test. Once that has been established, the process is the same for unmarried fathers as married fathers. You will need to contact a family law attorney to discuss your case and then file the proper paperwork with the family courts to ask for either the establishment of a custody order or a change to an existing order that grants you shared or sole custody of the children.
If you are being kept from your child or are considering a change in custody or visitation, call our office at 931-236-2711 to schedule a free consultation. One of our attorneys can help you understand what your rights are and how to move forward with your case.