The New York Times recently published an opinion piece entitled “Beyond Marriage“. The author discusses the reduction in the number of marriages (and possible causes), but cites studies that say: 40% of children are born outside of marriage. The author suggests a number of ways to assist these mothers and their newborn children.
Even if a couple is not married (or even if they are no longer in a romantic relationship), either parent can attempt to establish paternity of the child via a Petition to Establish Parental Relationship. Once the parental relationship is established, the father then has rights to custody and visitation of the child (subject to the the “best interest” of the child) as well as the legal obligation of support. Parents can also sign the Declaration of Paternity to facilitate the paternity process.
If you are a parent of a child born out of wedlock, be sure to talk to an experienced family law attorney to help determine your right and obligations as well as those of the other parent. And perhaps most importantly, the rights of your child.