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What should you know as a new father?

When a baby is born, it's important to determine who the legal father is. The legal definition of a father is the man who will be granted parental rights and the right to visitation and custody. When mothers and fathers are married at the time of the baby's birth, the man is typically assumed to be the father and is named on the birth certificate.

There may be times when it's not clear who the father is. If that's the case, you can pursue a DNA test to prove paternity. If the DNA test proves paternity, then you can gain rights as a father regardless of your marital status.

If you decide that you want to seek custody and are not married to the mother, you may wish to seek legal custody, physical custody or both. Physical custody places the child in your residence and under your care. Legal custody, on the other hand, is the right you have to be involved in legal decisions relating to your child's life.

If you decide to share physical custody, your case may be referred to as a joint custody case. If not, then you may wish to pursue at least legal custody. When you don't have physical custody, you should receive visitation rights and parenting time with your child, regardless of his or her age.

Even infants need to spend time with their fathers, as this is an important time when babies bond to their parents. Your attorney can help make sure all the correct documents are filed, so you have a legal right to see and care for your child.

Source: Livestrong.com, "Father's Rights With a Newborn Baby," C. Giles, June 13, 2017

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