What are your Parental Rights?

A parent’s rights refer to the legal rights and responsibilities that a parent has in relation to their child. These rights include the right to make decisions about the child’s upbringing, the right to physical custody of the child, and the right to financial support for the child.

When your parental rights are intact and secured, the important decisions pertaining to their education, healthcare, religion, wellbeing, and extracurricular activities, include:

  • To protect the best interests of your child
  • To educate and guide your children through lesson learning and discipline methods
  • To be a significant influence in your child’s life through regular contact and in-person interactions
  • To provide love and affection to your children without interference from the other parent
  • To be an active decision maker in choosing your child’s medical and dental practitioners, have complete access to medical records, as well as, partake in discussions regarding any other health-related concerns of the child
  • To have complete access to your child’s school records and be welcomed at any school-related meeting or event regarding your child
  • To partake in parenting decisions and follow your own parenting technique with your child
  • To decide where your child will reside
  • To decide where your child will attend school and what schooling technique would best suit their needs
  • To decide what cultural and religious influences they will be exposed to

Unmarried Fathers

Fathers Custody

If you are an unwed father, you have the same constitutional rights over your child as the unwed mother; however, your paternity needs to be established before your rights are fully protected by law. One of the simplest ways to establish paternity over the child is to have your name on the child’s birth certificate.

If you are an unwed father, you must establish your Paternity/Parentage before you can proceed with custody or visitation orders.

Maintain your Rights

Your rights could be threatened if a petition is filed for child custody and you are not prepared. To maintain your rights, you will need to demonstrate to the Family Court that you are a capable and well-suited parent.

To do this effectively, you must understand the criteria used to determine child custody and how to collect solid evidence that supports your case. To learn more about how to prepare for a child custody case, read the Evidence Gathering Essentials or grab your copy of Evidence Strategies for Child Custody.

If Paternity is Contested

If your name is not currently on the child’s birth certificate, you can establish your paternity/parentage and protect your rights by signing and submitting a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form, also known as, an official Declaration of Paternity, or Affidavit Of Parentage.

If the unwed mother contests your paternity, you will need to File a Court Order for Parentage. State laws vary, but once you’ve filed this order, your paternity will be determined by the court via a hearing or after genetic testing results are available.

Responsibilities of a Parent


    • Protect your child from harm’s way
    • Do not neglect your child’s needs
    • Provide for your child with appropriate shelter, clothing, and food.
    • Support your children physically, emotionally, and mentally
    • Provide your child access to an education
    • Provide your child with necessary medical aid and care
    • Guide your child on how to be a responsible citizen

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