Many couples in North Carolina make big commitments to one another without ever getting married. It is quite common for young couples to have children or buy real estate with one another without actually committing to marriage.
They may then face challenges addressing their shared property or children if they decide to split up later. Maybe you are still in a relationship with your partner who is pregnant, and you are curious about your rights as an unmarried father. Perhaps you are already in the midst of a breakup and worry about what the end of your romantic relationship may mean for your relationship with your children.
As an unmarried father in North Carolina, you may need to establish paternity with the state or officially affirm yourself as the father of your child. What are the benefits of taking that extra step?
- You can ask for custody or visitation rights
If you want to see your children regularly or have custody of them half of the time, you have to establish paternity to protect that right. The mother of your child may cooperate with you to fill out certain paperwork at the hospital after the child’s birth. You can also cooperatively affirm your paternity with the mother of the child at any point while they are still a minor.
North Carolina must be aware of your parental relationship for the courts to award you parenting time or parental authority. Even if the mother is uncooperative and you have to undergo genetic testing, doing so can be worthwhile, as it preserves your relationship with your children.
- Your children will benefit from knowing their background
Whether they have to do a basic genealogy chart in middle school to trace their family ancestry through several generations or they have medical issues that could have a relationship to your family history, it is very important for your children to know who you are and the culture and family that helped produce them.
Having your name included on your child’s birth certificate is crucial for their sense of connection to their paternal side of the family. Children tend to have a better idea of who they are when they understand their family history.
Although it can take some time and some persistence on your part to formally establish paternity and convince the state to acknowledge you as the father of your child, doing so is typically a smart move for fathers who want to play a role in their children’s lives. Establishing legal paternity can help protect your rights as a parent.