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Unwed Fathers' Rights in South Carolina

Unwed Fathers' Rights in South Carolina

Lack of Parental Rights Poses Problems for Unmarried Parents

When children are born in the context of marriage, a father’s paternity is assumed and he does not bear the burden of proving his biological relationship to that child.

However, the story is different for unmarried fathers, who do bear this burden. Even if two parents are living together or in a long-term relationship at the time a child is born, there is still no legal assumption of paternity, which can create serious problems in the event of a breakup.

If you’re reading this, you probably have a lot of questions about your legal rights and future as a father, such as:

  • Do I have to take a paternity test?
  • What is the legal process for splitting up with a co-parent who isn’t my spouse?
  • Will I be able to visit my kids if their mother takes them away?
  • What do child support and co-parenting look like for unwed parents?

Our team at Christian & Christian is here with all the answers you need. The best way to ensure you have trustworthy, accurate information is to call our office and speak to a member of our team.

Dial (864) 408-8890 now to speak to a family law attorney in Greenville.

What Rights Do Unmarried Fathers Have?

In South Carolina, mothers are immediately given sole custody when they have a child out of wedlock—unless fathers act early on.

Unless the child’s father takes deliberate steps to prove and demonstrate that he is, in fact, the father, he has no legal rights to that child. This means the father’s family members (including the child’s grandparents) have no legal authority or influence in the child’s life. It also means fathers have no legal right to request an official child custody agreement, nor will any of the child’s paternal family members have any legal right to visitation or other involvement in the child’s life.

How to Establish Paternity in South Carolina

In order to establish paternity, there are a few things you can do:

  • Sign a Paternity Acknowledgement: You may have already missed the boat on this one, but soon-to-be fathers who are unmarried should consider this one. At the point the child is born, you will have the opportunity to sign an official Paternity Acknowledgement form while under oath. You should only sign this if you are absolutely sure you are the child’s father, because it will legally obligate you to support and care for that child.
  • Signing the baby’s birth certificate: Signing your child’s birth certificate after they are born is often a definitive sign that you are the baby’s father, and it is a preferable option for many dads, as it does not require paternity testing.
  • Official DNA testing: If there is any doubt as to whether you are your child’s biological father (whether from you or the child’s mother), DNA testing is a great way to get a definitive answer and ensure your parental rights are protected.

Our Greenville Family Lawyers Can Answer All Your Paternity & Family Law Questions

You may be worried about your future as a parent and concerned that your parental privileges are in jeopardy. When you bring your family legal issue to Christian & Christian, you can rest easy. Our Greenville family law attorneys have been helping South Carolina families for more than 95 years, and we are well-equipped to help you achieve a positive outcome in your case.

Call (864) 408-8890 to start protecting your rights as a father and secure your place in your child’s life, or send us an email to schedule your complimentary consultation today.


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