As a father, you have a right to remain in the life of your child.

Numerous laws exist to protect the rights of fathers in Tennessee, as in many other states. These rights spring into existence in Tennessee when a child is born and can only be taken away from a father by a court of law for specific instances of wrongdoing. Typically, a father has two types of legal rights pertaining to his children: paternity and custody.

Paternity is the legal state of being recognized as the child’s father. If paternity is challenged, testing can be conducted to establish a father’s rights. While a father has few rights before the child is born, a father’s rights spring into action once the child is born. As an example, in Tennessee a man who has impregnated a woman cannot stop the woman from getting an abortion. However, once the child is born, the woman cannot give the child up for adoption without the consent of the father.

Custody is the legal right to protective care of the child and the right to raise the child. Under the law, child custody includes legal custody (the right to make child rearing decisions) and physical custody (the right to have the child live with you or visitation rights if he or she does not live with you). Tennessee fathers are making great strides in gaining custody because, under Tennessee law, the gender of a parent is not a primary determinate of custody.

Therefore, although it is true that a father’s rights can be negatively affected by his behavior especially as it pertains to the health and well-being of his child, barring exceptional circumstances, a father does have the legal right to remain in his child’s life. Fathers should consult a lawyer experienced in protecting fathers’ rights in order to protect their most precious asset.