There is a difference between legal and biological fathers. Even if you are the biological father of a child, you may not be the legal father until a court declares you the legal father. This occurs in a paternity matter. If a mother is not married to a father when the child is born, the biological father is not considered a “legal” father until a paternity action is brought and he is declared the legal father by court order. This can mean several things – not only does the biological father have no financial obligation to the child until he becomes the legal father, but the mother also has sole legal and sole physical custody of the child until the legal father is determined. An unmarried mother and father can sign a document called a Recognition of Parentage (ROP) to create the presumption that the father is the legal father, but a custody action would still need to be brought to give the legal father custodial rights.
Call the attorneys at Family Law Solutions, PLLC to set up a free consultation to discuss your options in a paternity action, as well as the implications of signing a Recognition of Parentage (ROP).