What Rights Do Fathers Have Regarding Child Custody?In North Carolina, both parents have an equal right to custody of their children. While the State used to follow the so-called “tender years” doctrine, which gave preference to the mother when the children were young, that is no longer the case. When a couple divorces, both parents are assumed to be equally capable of rearing their young children.

Establishing paternity may be a key component of your child custody case

Married parents are automatically presumed to be the biological and lawful parents of children born during that marriage. Unmarried fathers need to establish paternity in court in order to legitimate a child and be legally determined to be the father. This gives a dad the right to have a court order custody time with his child, to make the child his heir, and to give the father a say in how the child is raised.

When an unmarried mother gives birth, both parents can sign an affidavit of parentage in front of witnesses. This affirms that he is the biological father and is usually followed by his name being put on the birth certificate. This may not be enough, however, if the parents are unmarried. The father must then file a legitimation petition, which will grant him full legal rights to child custody.

Surrogacy and child custody

There are many ways to build a family, and some couples may choose to do so through surrogacy. North Carolina does not have any surrogacy laws on the books, which can create complications if the parents choose to divorce or split up.

Per AmericanSurrogacy.com:

Judges in North Carolina will grant pre-birth orders to intended parents, usually to: married couples who have used both or one of their gametes; an unmarried couple using both of their gametes; a single parent who has used their own sperm or egg; or a couple or single parent using donor embryos or donor egg and donor sperm.

Some North Carolina judges may not recognize the parentage of couples and single parents with no genetic link to their child born via surrogacy. Instead, these individuals may need to complete an adoption after birth.

In other words, if you and your spouse decide to have a child via surrogacy you need an experienced family lawyer to ensure your legal rights as the parents of the child.

Fathers have the same rights as mothers. Each has a basic constitutional right to the care, custody, and control of their children. If others have told you it is hopeless to fight for custody of your child-they are wrong. Strong representation is the key to ensuring a father is and remains an important part of their child’s life.

Hartsoe & Associates, P.C., provides thoughtful, ethical counsel to clients in and around Winston-Salem and Greensboro. If you have questions about paternity and/or child custody, we want to help. Please call us at 336.725.1985, or fill out our contact form.