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What Rights Does a Father Have if He Is on the Birth Certificate in Iowa?

Article written by Illinois & Iowa Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Updated on
November 27, 2019

In this article, we answer the question, “What rights does a father have if he is on the birth certificate in Iowa?” We’ll cover the following:

  • What rights does a married father have if he is on the birth certificate in Iowa?
  • What rights does an unmarried father have if he is on the birth certificate in Iowa?
  • What is the legal definition of paternity?
  • Establishing paternity in Iowa
  • Father’s rights to child custody and visitation in Iowa

What rights does a married father have if he is on the birth certificate in Iowa?

When a married couple has a child, the woman’s husband is presumed to be the baby’s biological father. Once the father’s name and signature are added to a birth certificate, he receives all rights and assumes all responsibilities any legal guardian has, including access to the child, the right to make legal decisions about the child’s upbringing, and being financially responsible for the child’s care.

What rights does an unmarried father have if he is on the birth certificate in Iowa?

An unmarried father is not presumed to be a child’s biological father and will need to take additional steps to establish paternity. Only then will he be legally recognized by the court and granted the same parental rights and responsibilities as any other legal guardian.

What is the legal definition of paternity?

A father’s rights are determined by paternity, or the process in which a child’s biological father is deemed the child’s legal father.

Establishing paternity in Iowa

There are three ways a father can establish paternity in Iowa:

Establishing paternity in Iowa by marriage

When a couple is married, the husband is presumed to be the father of an unborn child unless the mother says otherwise. If a child is conceived out of wedlock, the parents can wed before the birth to establish a father’s paternity.

Establishing paternity in Iowa by an affidavit of paternity

An affidavit of paternity is a legally recognized document that establishes a father’s paternity. This can be signed after a child is born. To be binding, the form must have the mother’s signature and include statements from both parents confirming paternity. It must also include each parent’s Social Security number and the child’s birth information. By signing an affidavit, both parents accept responsibility to financially support a child. However, an affidavit does not guarantee a father visiting rights. But with the signed form, he can petition the court should child custody become an issue.

Establishing paternity in Iowa through a paternity order

In cases of paternal doubt, either a mother or father may refuse to sign an affidavit. In this situation, the court may order a DNA test to establish paternity.

Father’s rights to child custody and visitation in Iowa

If a child custody issue arises and a child’s father wants to petition for child custody and/or visitation in Iowa, they will need to have established paternity before a judge will hear their case.

Iowa does not show a preference to awarding physical custody of a child to their mother. Iowa courts will always attempt to award joint legal and physical custody unless presented evidence suggests this is not in the best interest of the child. This could result in either the mother or father being awarded sole legal and/or physical custody if both are listed on a birth certificate.

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What rights does an unmarried father have if he is on the birth certificate in Iowa?

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