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What dads need to know about visitation for their newborn

Unfortunately, there are many children being born into a single-parent environment. While mother and father may not have remained together as a couple, both still have rights and responsibilities when it comes to the life they have created. As a father, it can obviously be more difficult to be a part of your child's life unless you make it happen -- and if you take the proper steps, you can do just that.

If you still have an amicable relationship with the mother, you can take steps before your child is born. If you do not have a relationship with the mother, it would be beneficial for both you and your child to cultivate one if possible. Then you can have discussions regarding visitation before the birth.

Try to come to some agreements with your child's mother. Ask if you can be notified when she goes into labor. Request to sign paternity papers at the time of birth. Discuss a visitation plan for after the baby is born. This will assure her that you want to be a part of the child's life and intend to take full responsibility.

If you and the mother are not in agreement or not communicating, it will be more difficult -- but not impossible -- to become a part of your child's life. You may need to contact your local child support agency to establish paternity. This will obviously mean you need to be willing to pay child support -- a natural part of taking responsibility for your child. If your name is on the birth certificate, this may be sufficient for establishing paternity.

File for visitation rights. In Arizona, you will need to file a "Petition to Establish Legal Decision Making (Custody), Parenting Time and Child Support." A family law attorney can file this for you, or if you decide to do it on your own, it may be helpful to have an initial consultation with an attorney.

Remember, the earlier you begin steps to be a part of your child's life, the earlier you can begin that lifelong bonding process. You may even be able to establish joint custody of your child, if not now, in the future.

Source: The Spruce, "How to file for visitation rights as a new dad," Jennifer Wolf, accessed Dec. 01, 2017

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