Father’s Rights in Tennessee

Unfortunately, this issue comes up a lot in this day and age, and it’s surprising how few people know the answer.

So, a couple that is not married has a child. Then something happens and the mother is no longer allowing the father to see the child and he is all upset and worked up about this. What rights does the father have in Tennessee?

The answer is, none. Tennessee Code Annotated Section 36-2-303 states, “Absent an order of custody to the contrary, custody of a child born out of wedlock is with the mother.” What can the father do? He needs to go to juvenile court and file a petition for custody. Then the court will go about having a hearing or setting a mediation when the father can attempt to get some established custody/visitation rights.

A court order or mediated agreement is the only way that the father can get his visitation and custody rights protected. Otherwise, the father is completely at the mercy of the mother to allow him visitation with their child.