A father is the male parent of a child. The parent can be defined biologically, legally or socially. Most traditionally a biological parent is considered a father, put proving paternity has been historically problematic so social rules often define who the father is. With DNA testing, it is easier to determine the true parent.
Types of fathers
A biological father shares genes with the child. These can exist in a variety of classifications:
- A natural father, the most common category.
- A surprise father, where men find out about the child later.
- A posthumous father, who dies before children are born.
- A teenage father, often associated with premarital sex.
- A non-parental father, whose name doesn’t appear on the birth certificate and who has no legal responsibility. In the United Kingdom, he does, however, continue to have financial responsibility.
- A sperm donor father, who has a genetic connection but no legal or financial one.
Non-biological fathers, conversely have a social or legal relationship with the child, but no genetic one. These can also be classified in several ways:
- Stepfather, whose wife has a child from a previous relationship.
- Father-in-law, the father of his child’s spouse.
- Adoptive father.
- Foster father, who raises the child but does not adopt him or her; usually part of a couple.
- Cuckolded father, the husband, when the child is the product of an adulterous relationship.
- Social father, when the man takes responsibility of the child.
- Mother’s partner, a current committed partner of the mother, who fills the role of father.
Fatherhood can also be defined by the amount of contact one has with the child:
- Weekend/holiday father, who only has custody on certain occasions.
- Absent father, who doesn’t spend much time with the children.
- Second father, a person who isn’t’ a parent but has extensive contact and support.
In the United Kingdom, the child of a man who is not his or her legal father (for example, if a man in a couple seeking in-vetro fertilization withdraws his consent for the procedure) has no right to support or inheritance. This is a legal status.