Wisconsin unmarried fathers rights are not automatic in every case. If the father and mother are married, the husband is presumed to be the father. However, unmarried fathers have no rights until they obtain a court paternity order. Being named on the child’s birth certificate does NOT establish Wisconsin unmarried fathers rights.
Even if the parents live and raise the child together, Wisconsin mothers have sole legal custody (the right to make decisions for a child) unless a courts grants that status to the father. Likewise, without a court order, fathers have no right to spend any specific time with the child. Therefore, if the parents’ relationship ends, the mother can legally deny the father custodial and placement rights.
Wisconsin unmarried fathers rights MUST be formally established by court order. This should be done immediately after the child is born. The petition for paternity can even be filed before the birth. Even if you live with the mother, and are cooperating, you should establish your rights immediately. I have handled some cases in which the mother moved out of state, or even out of the country, with the child. Because the father had never formally established his legal paternity, he was unable to prevent the move.
One additional issue to consider is your child’s right to inheritance from you. If you do not have a will, and you have never been legally established as the father, your child may not inherit from you. Another issue is the parental rights and custody to the child if the mother is unavailable to provide care. If you are legally judged as the father, custodial rights would likely pass to you. If you are not, the child could be sent to another relative, or even foster care.
The consequences for father and their children can be extremely negative if the Wisconsin unmarried fathers rights are not established. I offer free consultations to assist you in ensuring your place in your child’s life.