Visitation Rights of Unmarried Fathers

Visitation Rights of Unmarried Incarcerated Fathers

In order to obtain a court order requiring visitation privileges when the mother has refused to allow your children to visit you in jail or prison, you must first establish that you are the father. This can be done in two ways:

(1) File a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity signed by both you and the mother of the child; or

(2) File a Complaint to Establish Paternity in the Probate Court. This Complaint should ask that the Probate Court rule you are the father. In such a complaint, you could also ask the Court to order visitation.

If it appears unlikely that the mother will cooperate in any way, you will have to file a Complaint to Establish Paternity. The court is required to prepare forms which can be used by persons proceeding pro se (without attorney). You should write the court and ask them to send you the appropriate paternity forms. Tell them that you are indigent and ask them to send you an Affidavit of Indigency.

You should file the Complaint in the Probate Court of the county where your child(ren) reside. You should also send the court an Affidavit of Indigency, which the court should provide for you, together with a simple motion you should prepare requesting visitation. It is best if possible to name one of your female relatives in your motion as the person who can take your children to prison to see you; the courts tend to be most open to visitation in prison under those conditions. It would also be a good idea to write a cover letter to the court explaining that you are in prison and asking to be informed of any additional steps you must take.

Once you have filed the Complaint, the court will send you a summons. This can be served by leaving a copy of the summons and complaint at your ex’s last and usual residence and by mailing copies to her as well, at her last and usual residence.