Non-biological fathers can petition for custody in limited circumstances. Many of these custody cases begin when a man is misled to believe that a child is his by birth. If the man later finds out that he did not father the child, he can still ask for custody after a legal separation. Here, you will learn about a non-biological father’s custody rights under the law.
When can a Non-Birth Father Retain Parental Rights?
There is a widespread assumption that a child’s interests are best served by their being in a biological parent’s custody. Therefore, non-birth fathers have a hard time getting custody, and most court cases are decided in favor of a natural parent. However, public opinion dictates that a non-birth father can ask for custody if he can demonstrate that he has established a strong, enduring relationship with the child.
Court Considerations in Granting Child Custody
When a family law court awards custody, its decision is always based on the child’s interests, whether or not the two parties are the child’s biological parents. In making a custody decision, courts use factors such as:
- Age – Many courts believe that very young children cannot have substantial relationships with either parent, while older children are considered much more capable of doing so.
- The child’s mother’s wishes – The mother’s approval in giving visitation or custody to the father is a significant factor.
- The bond between child and father figure – If the man acknowledged paternity by signing the child’s birth certificate, his case can be bolstered.
- The biological father’s presence in the child’s life – if the child’s biological father has died or cannot be found, the non-biological father may be able to make a claim if he has a strong relationship with the child.
If a man has portrayed himself as a father and has supported the child monetarily, physically and emotionally, he may petition for custody and/or visitation rights. Child custody cases are complex, and emotions often run high. A consultation with our family lawyers in Colorado Springs at Maceau Law can help you address the vital issues that a family court considers when awarding child custody. Give us a call at 719-633-2222 for a free initial legal consultation.