1. Parenting
Jennifer Wolf

Advice for Single Dads: How to File for Visitation Rights

By February 23, 2013

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To file for visitation, you'll need to contact the family court in your county. But the first thing they'll want to know is whether paternity has been established. If your name is already on your child's birth certificate, or if you signed a Declaration of Paternity at the hospital (sometimes called an "Acknowledgment of Paternity" form), either document will likely be sufficient proof of paternity for the state.

A single dad having breakfast with his son.

But if your ex won't allow you to sign the affidavit, you'll need to prove paternity through other means. In this situation, the family court may refer you to the Office of Child Support Enforcement, who will help you prove paternity. But they'll also set up child support at the same time, which may be retroactive to the child's birth.

Once paternity is formally established, you can go back to the family court and request visitation. Just know from the beginning that because the courts view child support and visitation as two separate issues, you'll be responsible for paying child support each month whether visitation is granted or not. In most cases, though, the courts are generally supportive of establishing a regular visitation schedule between the child and the non-custodial parent.

While the process is often slow and difficult, keep your eye on the goal -- establishing a warm and loving, ongoing relationship with your child.

Photo Digital Vision/Getty Images

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Comments
February 26, 2013 at 5:01 pm
(1) Andy says:

I find it inconceivable in this day an age that we still talk about one parent as if they have custody and the other has visitation. Those who have been parents know that both parents are custodians of their children for life, and to suggest anything else is simply nonsense. More than that it is child abuse to have one parent demoted and the other elevated int he eyes of the child. When will this anti-father attitude towards families end?

February 27, 2013 at 6:53 pm
(2) Jennifer Wolf says:

I hear you — and I’m definitely an advocate of parents working together to raise their kids. But the reality is that many parents don’t share physical custody. And in the case of unmarried parents, particularly in states that presume the mother automatically has primary custody, there are dads who need to know how to have their parental rights formally acknowledged so that they can have access to visitation and be part of their kids’ lives.

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