Father’s Rights in Wisconsin
What are a Father’s Rights in Wisconsin?
If you father a child but are not married to the mother, Wisconsin law does not give you parental rights as a matter of course. The default position is that the mother of the child has sole legal custody of the child. This includes not only the right to determine where the child will live, but also the right to make decisions in his or her life: authorizing non-emergency health care, consent to marriage or military service, and even the choice of schools and religion for the child. To gain your Father’s rights in Wisconsin, you have to first establish your paternity with the court.
Voluntary Agreement Between the Parents
The easiest way to establish paternity is through an agreement with the mother. If both parents sign the Wisconsin Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form, the father’s name is added to the birth certificate. Alternatively, if the parents later marry, you can sign the Wisconsin Acknowledgment of Marital Child form, which provides for joint parental rights under marriage.
Opening a Paternity Case
One potential problem with a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity is that signing the form does not automatically grant the father legal rights regarding the child. Even if the two parents agree on paternity, a court order has to establish a father’s rights. Until that happens, the mother in Wisconsin retains sole legal custody and all rights to make major decisions for the child.
If there is no agreement, the father can file a paternity action and take a blood test to establish his paternity. Once either a voluntary paternity acknowledgment or the DNA test establishes paternity, the father must then request a court hearing to determine legal custody and the child’s physical placement. The court must approve a parenting plan that will include physical placement of the child, support obligations, and daily schedules for the child.
A father’s rights do not come automatically under Wisconsin law. An unwed father needs to go to the court to gain any rights to custody and/or placement with the child. The attorneys at Eisenberg Law Offices can help you establish your paternal rights.