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Court awards visitation rights to unmarried dad

An unmarried father estranged from the mother of his daughter waged a court battle over custody for the child he only saw once in four and a half years. On April 27, a judge issued an order mandating that the father be granted ongoing visitation rights with his daughter. Single fathers in Michigan frequently have to wage a battle for the right to see their children and be involved in their lives. This case may affect similar rulings elsewhere in the country

There are an increasing number of unmarried parents today, so this is becoming a more common situation. When a couple breaks up after having children and did not get married, there often are court battles over custody and visitation issues. Sometimes, working with a lawyer to develop a mutually agreeable parenting plan can be a helpful approach.

State laws vary greatly, and often, in today's mobile society, parents may wind up living in different jurisdictions. In some of them, unmarried fathers are required to list themselves and their parental status on a state registry in order to claim their rights.

In this particular case, the father signed documents asserting his biological status in one state. However, the birth mother moved to another state and was allowed to let her brother adopt the child without giving the father any say in the decision. This recent ruling granted rights to visitation to both birth parents, with further monitoring over time to see how the daughter is responding to the visits from both of her birth parents.

The father is continuing to assert that the birth mother violated the laws of one state to get the child adopted by her brother in another jurisdiction. In an earlier ruling, the adoption was overturned and the battle for custody continued. The dad is determined to see that his rights, legal and moral, to a continuing connection to his child do not get lost in the shuffle. For now, at least, it appears that he has prevailed in that regard.

Source: Fox 31, "Unmarried father wins visitation rights in custody battle," Jon Bowman, April 30, 2012

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