The state of North Carolina provides avenues for unmarried fathers to protect their legal rights and ensure a relationship with their child. Understanding the steps that you should take to protect your rights is the first step and the sooner you take action, the better.
There are several things you should do to protect your rights to your child.
Register with the Putative Father Registry
The Putative Father Registry is a database where you can register your potential paternity status before you receive legal confirmation. If you worry that the birth mother might put the child up for adoption before you can establish paternity, this may reduce that risk.
You need established legal paternity to protect your parental rights. If the child’s mother is unwilling to cooperate, the court can issue an order mandating paternity testing on your behalf. A verified paternity test establishes your identity as the child’s father, protecting your parental rights. According to the Cleveland Clinic, paternity testing is 99.9% accurate in determining paternity based on DNA results.
Seek custody or visitation
The sooner you pursue your rights to custody and visitation, the better it looks for your case. Be proactive about seeking time with your child and show the court that you can provide a stable, supportive environment to keep the child safe and cared for.
Document your actions
Document every attempt you make to see your child or get information about your child’s well-being. Keep track of phone calls, visits, attendance at important events and any interactions with the child’s mother. This shows your efforts in good faith.
Protecting your parental rights as an unmarried father takes a proactive effort.