Biological parents in Pennsylvania possess a right to spend time with their children. The right exists whether or not parents were married at the time of the child’s birth. The court will decide what is best for the child when the visitation or custody rights of an unmarried father are in dispute. The court will presume that time with both parents is best for a child unless there is reason to suggest it is not.
Family law statutes require unmarried fathers to establish their paternity for legal purposes. Paternity is often established through an acknowledgment by both parents to state authorities. This acknowledgment can take place by signing a birth certificate when the baby is born or in some other way at a later date. In cases of disputed paternity, the court will take evidence into account like DNA tests and parent testimony before issuing an order of paternity. A father who establishes paternity of a child is then able to pursue his rights to custody or visitation.
Parents who want to avoid the legal process can choose to establish a parenting agreement between themselves. This agreement will likely cover details like which of the parents will maintain primary custody of the child, visitation times for non-custodial parents, health care, religion, and other things of importance to the parents and their children.
If the parties are unable to agree, either parent can make a request to the court for assistance. If a parent wants the court to either disallow visitation or place stipulations on the visitation rights of the other, evidence that the parent presents a danger to the child is necessary. This evidence may include drug use or domestic violence.
Unmarried fathers should understand that a court will generally favor their right to visit their child. However, a court is less likely to grant them primary custody of a child. Parents with this goal in mind will need to show the mother of his child is unfit for the task of raising the child.
Parents possess a right to time with a child regardless of their relationship status with the other parents. Individuals with questions regarding their visitation or custody rights may find the answers they need by speaking with an attorney.