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Child Visitation

Biological parents have a right to seek child visitation or child custody. This is true regardless of whether the child’s parents were married when the child was born. Like other child custody decisions, courts use the best interest of the child to decide disputed child visitation or custody cases involving unmarried fathers. Unless evidence indicates otherwise, courts making child visitation decisions presume that involvement of both parents benefits the child.

Child Visitation

You Need to Establish Paternity if You’re Not Married

Fathers who were not married when their child was born must legally establish paternity in order to gain access to father’s rights. Often, this simply means both parents signing and filing an acknowledgment of paternity with the appropriate state agency or court, either at the time of the child’s birth or afterward. In disputed paternity cases, a legal process including DNA testing will conclude with a court order stating whether the man in question is the child’s biological father.

Once paternity is established, a father may pursue child visitation or other child custody rights. Many states offer simultaneous filing for recognition of paternity and for visitation or custody rights.

Child Visitation and Child Custody Agreements

Either before or after a legal process has begun, many parents negotiate a parenting agreement (also called a parenting plan). A parenting agreement can include a wide variety of details including which parent will have primary custody, specifics on the other parents visitation periods, particulars on which parent will make decisions regarding the child’s education, health care or religion, as well as procedures for the handling of potential changes to the arrangement.

Court Orders on Child Visitation or Custody

Either after securing a parenting agreement, or if unable to agree, either parent may petition the court for child visitation or custody help. Parents who can agree to a parenting plan may file it with a court, asking the judge to approve and incorporate it into a court order on visitation and/or custody. Having the agreement become part of a court order allows either parent a direct way to enforce his or her parental rights.

If the parents cannot agree on visitation or custody arrangements, either one may ask the court to grant his or her request through a contested hearing. Courts deciding visitation and other custody issues focus on the best interest of the child. Generally, courts presume that children benefits from having both parents involved in their upbringing. This presumption can be overcome if one parent can show that visitation or custody by the other parent would likely cause harm to the child. For example, evidence of domestic violence or drug problems could be used to argue against a parent having custody or visitation with a child.

It is rare for fathers to win sole custody of a child already being raised by the mother. To do so, an unmarried father would likely need to show that the mother is unfit to raise the child and/or that he has been the child’s primary caregiver. Child visitation or shared custody rights, however, allow many unmarried fathers to play a consistent role in their children’s’ lives.

Should arrangements need to change, the court can modify the child visitation or custody order, either after both parents agree to the change, or after one parent petitions the court to make the change. Some states allow parents to agree on modification to visitation arrangements without a courts approval, however, a modified updated court orders allow easier enforcement of agreed arrangements.

Get a Free Evaluation of Your Child Custody and Child Visitation Concerns

Each state has their own laws surrounding child custody, child visitation, and the role of unmarried fathers. In Utah, the quicker you act the better off you are. While unmarried fathers do have parental rights, understanding the boundaries and limitations of those rights is important moving forward. You should
contact a Utah child custody lawyer right away to protect your rights or you will lose your rights. A local family law attorney with experience in these matters can help you avoid problems and give you peace of mind. Get started today with a free legal evaluation of your case.

Free Consultation with a Utah Child Custody Lawyer

If you have a question about child custody question or if you need to collect back child support, please call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Ascent Law LLC

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Michael Anderson

About the Author

People who want a lot of Bull go to a Butcher. People who want results navigating a complex legal field go to a Lawyer that they can trust. That’s where I come in. I am Michael Anderson, an Attorney in the Salt Lake area focusing on the needs of the Average Joe wanting a better life for him and his family. I’m the Lawyer you can trust. I grew up in Utah and love it here. I am a Father to three, a Husband to one, and an Entrepreneur. I understand the feelings of joy each of those roles bring, and I understand the feeling of disappointment, fear, and regret when things go wrong. I attended the University of Utah where I received a B.A. degree in 2010 and a J.D. in 2014. I have focused my practice in Wills, Trusts, Real Estate, and Business Law. I love the thrill of helping clients secure their future, leaving a real legacy to their children. Unfortunately when problems arise with families. I also practice Family Law, with a focus on keeping relationships between the soon to be Ex’s civil for the benefit of their children and allowing both to walk away quickly with their heads held high. Before you worry too much about losing everything that you have worked for, before you permit yourself to be bullied by your soon to be ex, before you shed one more tear in silence, call me. I’m the Lawyer you can trust.