Does an Unmarried Father Have Custody Rights?

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Generally the unmarried mother is considered to have the primary rights to her child including legal rights to custody, control and care for her child. An unmarried father will not obtain primary physical custody rights over a mother who is a good parent, but he may be able to establish some rights to custody or visitation with the child. Under North Carolina law, unmarried fathers must initiate legal action to obtain custody rights. The first step is to establish paternity of the child and have his name added to the child’s birth certificate, thus putting him on equal footing with the mother with regard to custody matters. Ultimately, the court will determine custody based on what is in the best interests of the child. 

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