Although the Child Welfare Information Gateway maintains that throughout history unwed fathers have traditionally been given fewer rights to their children than mothers in similar situations, fathers have started to use the Constitution's 14th Amendment--which includes the equal protection clause--to gain rights to their children.
Lee Borden of Lawyers.com says that a father's rights play a role in whether or not he can take custody of a child if the mother wants to give the newborn up for adoption. Father's rights also cover a father's ability to see a child, make parental decisions and financially support that child.
In most states, a putative father is defined as “a man who is alleged to be or claims to be the biological father of a child who is born to a woman to whom he is not married at the time of the child's birth,” according to the Child Welfare Information Gateway.
The Child Welfare Information Gateway states that a man married to the mother of a child is the child's presumed father. Because paternity has been established, married fathers share custodial and support rights with the child's mother.
Before an unmarried father can obtain rights to a newborn, paternity must be established, according to Criscione. After establishing paternity, The Child Welfare Information Gateway states that fathers can sue for visitation rights, and will generally be given financial support rights to their children. Cooperating parents can leave the courts out of the picture by drafting their own visitation and support plans and filing them with the court.
According to Criscione, the police cannot intercede in visitation disputes unless court orders are filed. As the father of a newborn, filing visitation court orders with the child’s mother immediately will in most cases protect your right to visitation in the future.