When the parents of a child are not married to each other, custody and child support are determined through a paternity action filed in juvenile court. The court usually orders DNA tests to prove paternity. The parties may then seek to work together through mediation to arrive at a parenting plan for their child or have a hearing and let the judge decide. The name of the child can be changed as part of the paternity order and the father’s name inserted on the child’s birth certificate.
Once paternity is established, a father has the same rights as a mother to seek primary care of his child. Many fathers have equal parenting time. Each parenting schedule depends on the proof presented to the court regarding the parent’s fitness, the child’s best interests, and the feasibility of the plan.