In North Carolina, an unmarried putative father will not have custodial rights to his child unless he establishes his paternity. Paternity may be established through a legal process called legitimation. After a man has established that he is the father of a child, he may then seek to enforce his legal rights.
In order to establish his rights, a father may file a petition with the court seeking to have his child legitimated. The verified petition must either be filed in the county in which the child lives or in the county in which the father lives. Fathers who are living in another state are also allowed to file their petitions in the counties in which their children live in North Carolina.
If the child’s mother is living, she must be named as a party in the petition. The child will also be a named party. The petition must include the full names of the father, the mother and the child, and the father must attach a copy of the child’s certified birth certificate. If the court determines that the man is the father, the court may declare him to be so. This then affords the father all of the rights and responsibilities that parents enjoy. The child will also be able to inherit from his or her father in the event the father passes away.
In some cases, mothers try to deny a father’s paternity of a child. When that happens, the ,an can seek to have genetic testing in order to prove that he is the father. After establishing paternity, the father may then file a petition for custody and visitation so that he can enjoy the he should have as the child’s parent. A family law attorney might help a client in this regard.