When a married couple has a child in Alabama, the state automatically considers the husband to be the child’s biological father. In other circumstances, fathers must take steps to assert their parental rights.
Review the extent of father’s rights in Alabama and the process of preserving those rights.
The legal paternity process
When the mother and father agree on paternity, they can both sign the Alabama Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form. When either person has doubts about paternity, they can ask the court to establish legal paternity based on a DNA test.
Benefits and responsibilities of paternity
Legal fathers have an equal right to time with their children as mothers, including physical custody and visitation. When a father petitions the court for custody after establishing paternity, the judge will create a parenting plan based on the child’s best interest. Factors in this standard include the parents’ wishes, their ability to meet the child’s needs, the suitability of each parent’s home, the existing relationship the child has with each parent, the stability of each parent’s extended family unit and whether either parent has a history of abuse or neglect.
In addition to preserving the father’s relationship with his child, establishing legal paternity allows the child to access benefits in the father’s name. Examples include Social Security or veteran benefits.
A father also has the right to make decisions on behalf of the child in cooperation with the child’s mother. The court may order either the father or the mother to pay child support depending on the custody arrangement, their earnings and other factors.