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Unmarried fathers can still step up as dads in Nebraska

Being a dad isn't an easy job. Raising children places a lot of demands on your time and your personal resources, including your income. However, it is also one of the most rewarding things you could do with your life. Being part of your child's life is important for you, as well as for your child.

If you are not married to the mother of your child, enforcing your rights as a father can become more complicated, especially if you do not have a positive relationship with the mother. Thankfully, Nebraska does have laws in place that protect the rights of fathers, even if they are not married to the mothers of their children. To benefit from that protection, you must establish paternity, or prove that you are the father.

See if you can execute an Acknowledgement of Paternity form

The best option and the simplest one is to work with the mother of the child to execute a state form known as the voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form. This document typically requires a signature from both parents, as well as notarization from a third party. Effectively, both you and the mother attest on this form to your belief that you are the father of the child.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to complete this form without the consent of the mother. In some cases, the mother of your child may be swayed by the fact that establishing paternity also creates responsibility to pay child support, or by the fact that your child will benefit from a relationship with you.

If she will not agree to sign the form, either due to your contentious relationship or uncertainty about the paternity of the child in question, you will then have to take more involved steps to establish yourself legally as the father of your child.

The courts can order genetic testing in contentious cases

Whether the mother of your child wants nothing to do with you or there are several possible men who may have fathered the child, it is possible to seek state intervention to establish yourself as the father.

You will need to request a hearing from the family courts. During that hearing, you will attest to the fact that you believe you are the father of the child because of your relationship with the mother. The courts can then compel the mother to present the child for genetic testing.

These tests provide relatively conclusive answers, accurate within a fraction of a percent. If the test comes back and confirms that you are the father of the child, the courts can then take steps to allocate visitation or shared custody. They will also likely establish a requirement to pay child support, unless you secure shared or primary custody of your child.

The good news is that while it may take some time, provided that you are dedicated to being a part of your child's life, it is possible to enforce your rights as a father in Nebraska and remain a part of your child's life.

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