Some say it takes a village to raise a child, and while this may be the case for some Rhode Island families, children may at least benefit from having the care and involvement of two loving parents. However, a parent's involvement in his or her child's life can be disrupted, if a divorce occurs or if the parents were never married. This may be especially true for fathers who sometimes find that their right to child custody or visitation is denied as a matter of course, rather than based on any particular shortcomings.
One step that fathers in Rhode Island may take to establish paternity is to sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity. While this may be the first step in establishing child support, fathers may be surprised to learn that signing such an acknowledgment will not give them the automatic right to child custody or visitation. Nonetheless, signing such an acknowledgment does give a father the right to petition the Family Court for such rights.
Sometimes, an unmarried mother and father in Rhode Island may find that they are able to cooperate and work together to establish a workable parenting plan. Such agreements may be beneficial to the child as they set the groundwork for the future cooperation between the parents that comes along with raising a child. Unfortunately, unmarried parents may have relationship issues that prevent them from being able to establish a child custody and visitation schedule on their own.
When this happens, fathers in Rhode Island may want to protect their rights by petitioning the Family Court for custody or visitation. The Family Court uses the standard of the best interest of the child when making such decisions. Signing a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity may help fathers whose goal it is to have a positive and nurturing connection with their child.
Remember, a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity in Rhode Island is not an automatic ticket to gaining custody of one's child. Fathers still must petition the court to establish a parenting plan that addresses whether one parent or both will have physical custody of the child and whether one parent or both will have legal custody of the child. Nevertheless, a voluntarily acknowledgment of paternity may work in a father's favor in such situations.
Source: CSE.RI.gov, "Questions And Answers About Paternity Usually Asked By Dads," accessed on July 13, 2015