If you have or think you have fathered a child, the State of Idaho gives you specific rights and responsibilities. Although historically the mother has been given preference in custody decisions, Idaho is one of many states that has begun to recognize the validity of the father-child bond, even if the parents were never married.
Legal Definition of Father
Legally, you are automatically considered to be a father if you adopted or biologically fathered a child during your marriage to his mother. You are a "presumptive father" if a child is born or conceived while you are married to the birth mother, even if you suspect the child isn't yours. You are a "putative father" if you fathered or think you fathered a baby but were never married to the birth mother.
Like most states, Idaho law gives both parents the same rights to legal and physical custody. In practice, nationwide mothers are awarded custody in most custody cases, and fathers get sole custody only 10 percent of the time, according to Divorce Lawyer Source, but the court system is starting to give the father's desire for custody equal weight. According to Idaho law, custody is to be awarded solely based on the best interest of the child.
Presumptive Father's Rights
If you discover that a child born into your marriage isn't yours biologically, you can file an affidavit of nonpaternity in court. If the birth mother and the biological father also acknowledge this, then the court may enter a support order for the biological father at that point. If you discover that you've been supporting a child that isn't yours and that the birth mother knowingly deceived you, you can file a motion to get your money back.
Putative Father's Rights
If you father a child out of marriage, you can claim your rights as a father by filing with the Putative Father Registry with the vital statistics unit of the Department of Health and Welfare. You may file before the child is born. If the county or other agency starts proceedings to terminate the birth mother's custody of the child, or if the mother puts the child up for adoption, you have no rights unless you've already filed with the registry.
- child image by Renata Osinska from Fotolia.com