In the state of Iowa, when a married couple has a child, the husband is automatically presumed to be the father. His name will go on the birth certificate and no further action is needed from the couple. Unfortunately, there are no automatic protections in place for the fathers of a children born out of wedlock. Unwed partners need to take additional steps to ensure the father has legal rights to the child.
An unwed father can establish paternity in one of three ways:
- Paternity Affidavit: This is a sworn statement in which each parent agrees that the father listed on the document is the child’s biological father. The father’s name is added to the birth certificate and he accepts responsibility for all financial support of the child.
- Paternity Order: This document is filed when the mother of the child is not receiving physical or financial support from the alleged father. The Iowa Child Support Recovery Unit (CSRU) will then issue an order for DNA testing from the child and parents.
- Marriage: Perhaps the simplest way to establish paternity is to get married before the child is born.
Father’s Rights to Custody & Visitation
Iowa operates under a ‘best interest of the child’ standard, which means all legal decisions regarding children will be based on what is most benefit the child. Family courts favor awarding joint legal custody to the parents.
This means both parents have the right to decide on matters concerning:
- medical care;
- extracurricular activities; and
- religious upbringing.
When it comes to physical custody, Iowa does not show any preference toward joint custody or giving parents an equal right to physical care; nor does it show preference to awarding physical custody to the mother. Rather, the judge will rule in favor of the home situation that is most beneficial to the child. This means a father has just as much right to custody as a mother does.
Father’s Right to Child Support
In custody cases where the father is awarded primary physical custody of the child, the mother may be ordered to pay child support. A father who has primary custody of a child has the same right to child support payments as a mother with primary custody.
Child support payments are used to help pay for a child’s needs, such as:
- food; and
Our Attorneys Will Protect Your Parental Rights
If you are having trouble establishing paternity, we can help. Our attorneys are dedicated to helping families in every walk of life.
Call our firm today at (515) 200-7571 or contact us online for your legal consultation.