As a general rule, parents in Tennessee and other states have the right to establish a relationship with their children. In some cases, a father may be granted custody of his child even if he is not married to the child’s mother. If a father is not granted custody, he will typically be granted visitation rights assuming that it is in the best interest of the child to do so.
Visitation rights can be determined by the parents themselves or as part of a court order. Parents are generally allowed to create a parenting plan on their own when they are willing and able to work with each other in good faith. Otherwise, a judge will stipulate when a father is allowed to see his children. In many cases, visitation will take place on weekends or during school breaks. However, a judge can create any type of schedule that is in the child’s best interest.
Prior to seeking any type of visitation or custody of a child, an unmarried father must prove that the child is his. This can be done by taking a DNA test to show a biological link to a son or daughter. The scope of custody or visitation rights granted is generally determined by looking at a father’s financial situation and other facts relevant to a case.
When a child is born to unwed couples, the presumed father is not automatically granted any rights to a son or daughter. Instead, he must either acknowledge paternity along with the mother or have a test to prove that this is the case. While those who aren’t deemed the father of a child don’t have visitation or other rights, there is also no requirement to pay child support until this occurs.