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In this article we will be reviewing Child Custody and Parenting Rights of Unmarried Fathers in Wisconsin answer the questions of:  What Is Paternity?, How Can a Father Establish Paternity Over His Child?, What is a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage?, What If it is Not Certain Who the Father is?, Do Unwed Fathers Have a Right to Parenting Time?, Can Parental Rights Be Established without Filing a Court Case?, Once Paternity Is Established, What Is Expected of the Father?, and Can You Have Parenting Time If the Mother Does Not Want You Around the Child?

In this article we will be reviewing Child Custody and Parenting Rights of Unmarried Fathers in Wisconsin answer the questions of:  

  • What Is Paternity?
  • How Can a Father Establish Paternity Over His Child?
  • What is a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage?
  • What If it is Not Certain Who the Father is?
  • Do Unwed Fathers Have a Right to Parenting Time?
  • Can Parental Rights Be Established without Filing a Court Case?
  • Once Paternity Is Established, What Is Expected of the Father?
  • Can You Have Parenting Time If the Mother Does Not Want You Around the Child?

Wisconsin takes father’s rights very seriously. The legislature has enacted a series of laws which are designed to protect a father’s rights to the minor child.

What Is Paternity?

Paternity is the legal determination establishing the parents of the Minor Child. A finding or determination of Parentage establishes legal rights with the Minor Child for the purposes of parental responsibility and support.

How Can a Father Establish Paternity Over His Child?

Wisconsin allows for paternity to be established through on of three methods. First, is a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Parentage. Second, parentage can be established through court order. Or third, the parents can sign an acknowledgment of marital child, if the parents were married at some point following the birth of the minor child.

What is a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage?

A Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage is a form that can be used by a Father of a child born out of wedlock to legally bind themselves as the parent of a child. This form has the same force and effect of a court order establishing paternity. Once the Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity is signed, it cannot be reversed.

What If it is Not Certain Who the Father is?

Any person that thinks he may be the father of a minor child is entitled to seek genetic testing through the Court to confirm parentage on the child. If there is any question related to who may be the father it is strongly recommended that the genetic testing be conducted as soon as possible. If a person signs a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage prior to genetic testing, the Acknowledgement will remain in effect even if the genetic testing determines that you are not the father. It is crucial to do the testing prior to signing any forms.

Do Unwed Fathers Have a Right to Parenting Time?

Yes, father’s have a right to be in their child’s life to help raise them to the best of their abilities. The State has recognized that the child has a right to have both parents in their lives and the Court will make the best efforts to ensure that parenting time for both parents is established.

Can Parental Rights Be Established without Filing a Court Case?

Yes, through the Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage as described above. This form will not establish a visitation schedule or child support obligations so it will still be necessary to start a case in court to determine those issues if the parents cannot agree.  

Once Paternity Is Established, What Is Expected of the Father?

Once Paternity has been established it is expected that a father will care for and support his child in every way possible. This includes providing child support, contribution towards expenses, being involved in major decision making and helping to raise the child.

Can You Have Parenting Time If the Mother Does Not Want You Around the Child?

Yes. The child is entitled to have both parents in their life. Having parents that do not cooperate well together can make that situation more difficult but neither parent is able to exclude the other from the child’s life without the court ordering such a restriction.

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