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Unmarried fathers and their rights in Tennessee

| Jun 20, 2014 | Fathers' Rights

Tennessee residents might notice that courts have generally favored mothers in family law matters. Now, however, the laws have evolved and an increasing number of contested family law issues are being settled in favor of the father. This is encouraging news for activists, who have been long-advocating for fathers’ rights.

Sadly, there still exists a difference in the kind of treatment that fathers receive from the courts; and in many cases, it is based on the marital status of the father. According to some recent studies, unmarried fathers continue to face a number of difficulties in order to obtain a favorable decision from the courts in issues related to family law. For instance, in most states, a mother’s husband automatically earns parental rights for a child born out of the wedlock but if the father is unmarried, he needs to take a number of additional steps to establish his paternity.

The problems do not end with establishing parentage. In child custody disputes, an unmarried father often has to put in significant effort to establish his custodial rights. This often becomes difficult as many mothers consciously try to keep their children away from the biological father. Additionally, while married couples receive parenting counsel from courts at the time of a child custody dispute settlement, an unmarried father’s attempt to gain child custody is often a full-fledged fight from the very beginning.

Another area where unmarried fathers often experience difficulties is adhering to the court-ordered financial obligations toward their children. Due to the lack of proper education, unemployment and substantial incarceration rate, many fathers in the country are unable to make timely child support payments. As a result they, they are identified as delinquents by the law. At the same time, they face resentment from mothers who are themselves struggling to make ends meet.

There is, however, positive news for fathers in Tennessee as the courts in the state recognize unmarried fathers’ rights. Its stems from the belief that it is important to keep families together even after a separation. However, since every case is unique and requires its own unique handling, a father who is involved in a family law dispute may wish to seek legal advice to ensure that his rights are protected to the greatest extent possible.

Source: New York Times, “What Unmarried Fathers Have to Worry About,” Clare Huntington, June 13, 2014


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