Legal Rights and Obligations of Unmarried Parents
Parents who have children "out of wedlock" — as the old saying goes — have many legal rights and obligations with regard to their children. This is true for both mothers and fathers. Fathering or mothering a child creates specific parental rights, and formal legal action is sometimes required in order to enforce them.
- Custodial Parents have the right to receive child support payments from the child's Non Custodial Parent.
- Non-Custodial Parents have the right to establish a regular visitation schedule with the child. Custodial Parents have the obligation to comply with the visitation schedule, unless doing so would endanger the child.
- Each Parent has the right to request shared or primary custody of the child.
A Paternity Action Is Often the First Step
Except in cases where the child's father has openly acknowledged the child as his own by signing an acknowledgement of paternity (or affidavit of parentage) form, a paternity action is the first step for either the mother or father to exercise their parental rights.
Either a mother or father may bring or defend a paternity action. If there is doubt about parentage, a mother must bring a paternity action as the first step of demanding child support payments from the child's father. The father may either demand or be required to take a paternity test, which is a noninvasive DNA test.
A father may bring a paternity action either to establish fatherhood or to attempt to disestablish his status as the legal parent by proving he is not the child's biological father.
Get Legal Help With Paternity Actions
The Law Offices of Lloyd A. Malech offers a complete range of legal services to help unmarried parents collect child support, establish a visitation schedule and to challenge paternity. Our office provides one-on-one access to an experienced family law attorney, at reasonable rates.
Make an appointment to talk to our lawyer about your paternity questions. Call 301.913.9119 or 202.441.2107, or use our online e-mail form. From our office in Bethesda, we serve clients throughout Maryland and the greater Washington, DC metro area.