In North Carolina, the legal father of a child has the same rights and responsibilities as the mother of the child.
Fathers in North Carolina are on equal footing with mothers when it comes to child custody.
A father can ask for, and get, legal custody of the child, meaning he will have decision-making authority. He can also get physical custody, meaning the child will live with him most of the time.
North Carolina judges make custody and visitation decisions based on what the judge believes is in the best interest of the child. The judge considers a number of factors when making this decision, but neither mothers nor fathers have any special consideration just because they are the mother or the father.
Likewise, fathers who have custody may request that the mother pay child support and ask for the courts to step in if the mother does not pay.
How does a man establish that he is the legal father of his child?
To become the legal father of his child, a man in the Charlotte area would need to establish paternity under North Carolina law. There are some exceptions. For example, a man having a child with his wife would not need to establish paternity to be the legal father of his child.
There are two basic ways to establish paternity. First, a man can voluntarily acknowledge that he is the father. The simplest way to do this is in the hospital shortly after the child is born.
The other way is by filing a paternity action in court. This process will usually involve testing to compare the DNA of the supposed father and the child.
Without establishing paternity, a man does not have legal standing to ask for custody or visitation. Whether he gets a say in raising the child or even gets to see the child would be up to the child’s mother or other caregiver in these cases.