On November 1, 2022, a new law was enacted that is a huge step forward for parents of children born out of wedlock. Now, unmarried mothers and fathers have equal rights and obligations to a child born out of wedlock, provided that an Acknowledgement of Paternity has been signed.
Before November 1, 2022, mothers were automatically considered the custodial parent of children born out of wedlock. Fathers really did not have any rights unless they were proactive and filed an action in the District Court to establish parental rights. This new law is a really big change and serves to level the playing field.
With this new law, parents of a child born out of wedlock will automatically have equal rights and responsibilities and the same rights of parents married at the time of the child’s birth. Both parents now share equal roles in decision-making, including medical decision making. However, this will only be true if a father signs an Acknowledgement of Paternity.
There is always a catch…
What if you are not sure that you are the father? Unless a father is 100% sure that he is the father, I would still encourage any father of a child born out of wedlock to get a paternity test before signing anything. I have lost count of how many guys have been absolutely positive a child was theirs, only to find out later through genetic testing that little Johnny might be the mailman’s kid.
What happens if parents can’t agree on how they will split time with the child? Although there is no doubt that this change is a huge leap forward in leveling the playing field, the reality remains that if the parents can’t agree they are still going to wind up at the courthouse seeking custody and visitation orders.
If you are the parent of a child born out of wedlock, I encourage you to consult with an attorney to learn your rights and responsibilities with these new changes.
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For more information on family law topics visit the Louden Law, PLLC Website.