Father's Rights To Children Born Out Of WedlockWhat is the Right of a Father to a Child Born Out of Wedlock

When a child is born out of wedlock, fathers have limited rights during the pregnancy, and even after the birth, until paternity and custody have been established.

Legitimize your Paternal Rights

Legitimization is another step that should be taken to give a child born out of wedlock the same rights as a child born in wedlock as it relates to the father and the child.

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Here are some common concerns fathers have when they learn they are expecting a child out of wedlock:

  1. How do I know the child is mine?

    You can file an action for paternity to establish paternity of a minor child at any time prior to the child’s 18th This would be filed after the child is born.

  2. Do I have any rights regarding the child having my last name?

    According to N.C. Gen. Stat. 130A-101(f) the mother’s surname is listed on the birth certificate unless the father is listed.

    If the father is listed, the mother and father must agree. If they do not agree, the mother’s surname is listed. If the father later seeks to legitimate the child, upon the child being legitimated the surname is changed to the father’s surname at that time (N.C. Gen. Stat. 49-13.)

  3. Can the mother list me as the father on the birth certificate without my consent?

    Both parties would be required to complete an Affidavit of Parentage. The mother may file a paternity action or child support action, which will ultimately lead to DNA testing being conducted to see if you are in fact the father of the child.

  4. Can I attend the mother’s prenatal appointments or be present in the delivery room?

    Only with the mother’s permission. You should check with the specific hospital as well to confirm their policy; however, mother’s right to privacy would likely prevent your presence without her authorization.

  5. What is the best course of action until the child is born?
    • It is important to express support and offer to be present at prenatal appointments and at the time of delivery, but also understand that you will ultimately only be able to do as much as the mother is willing to allow.

      If the mother says you are not to come to doctor’s appointments and are not to be present at the hospital, it would be wise to respect that choice so you do not find yourself being accused of harassing anyone or engaging in any sort of behavior that could be viewed as creating emotional distress for the mother.

    • Document your efforts to participate in writing (electronic will work as well, such as email and text message.) Offer financial support if you feel fairly certain the child is yours, and keep meticulous records of this as well (write checks, keep receipts, and do not give cash.) If the child is born and a paternity action is filed against you, the mother may seek contribution from you for hospital costs, etc.
    • When the baby is born, you should file an action for child custody, paternity and establishing child support. You cannot file these actions prior to the birth of the child.

      In addition, a petition for legitimization should be filed with the Clerk of Court as well. Paternity establishes who the father is, but legitimization is what imposes all the privileges and rights onto children who are born out of wedlock that children born in wedlock have; particularly as it relates to inheritance concerns.

As you can see, the issues facing fathers of children born out of wedlock can be difficult to navigate. It is important to get advice from an attorney based on your specific fact situation to ensure you are taking all necessary steps to protect your rights as a father with regard to your child.

Contact Our Raleigh Law Firm with Help for Your Paternal Case

If need help with your paternal case, our legal team in Raleigh has the experience needed to provide you with support for your situation. We can be reached by calling the number or the completing the contact form below.

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