Understanding Fathers’ Rights
When you are separating or divorcing and you have children, you need to speak with a child custody lawyer. You should also strongly consider speaking with an attorney if you are going to be a father and are not involved at all with the child’s mother. You want to protect your right to your children and you may need to take some legal steps to do so.
Fathers, like mothers, have parental rights to a child. This means a father may be entitled to shared custody of kids, or even to sole custody depending upon what is best for the child. A father may also be entitled to receive child support from a mother if the father is the parent who is raising the children.
An Irvine child custody lawyer can help fathers in many different situations to assert their rights and to protect their relationship with their kids. If you are getting divorced, breaking up with a partner, or having a child with someone you aren’t intimately involved with, you need to take action as soon as possible to make sure that you understand how the law can protect you. Contact Brown & Charbonneau, LLP today to speak with an attorney who can advise you and advocate for you so you can protect your important relationship with your kids.
The Rights of Fathers to their Children
A father has the right to have a say in a child’s life. A father should also generally have the right to shared custody or visitation time. A mother cannot give a child up for adoption without the consent of the father, and a mother cannot keep a child’s father from seeing the child or being involved in the child’s life.
To assert your rights as a father, you may need to prove that you actually are the child’s father. If you are married to the mother of the child, you will be presumed to be the father. If you are not married and you are recognized on the birth certificate as the father, this also gives you a legal claim to the child. However, if you are not involved with the child’s mother and/or if your name is not included on the birth certificate of a child you have with someone you are not married to, you may need to take additional steps to have your rights recognized.
You can institute paternity proceedings to prove that you have a claim to the child. If the mother does not acknowledge that you are the father, you can petition to require a DNA test to be conducted. The test will show whether you are the father or the child and thus can have a say in what happens to the child as well as potentially get full or partial custody.
Once it has been established that you are the father, you can move forward with custody proceedings to protect your rights to see your kids. The Judicial Branch of California explains the process for determining how custody works among parents. Instead of dividing custody, most parents will work out how parenting time is shared. While this is similar to custody, the focus is on c0-parenting and on making sure that the situation makes sense for the family, rather than just focused on where a child should live.
If you and the other parent can work together on a co-parenting agreement, this can provide the best outcome for your family. You can create a formal parenting agreement which has legal effect by working together to do so. If you are not able to come to an agreement, you can go to court and have a family court make a decision during child custody proceedings. You or the child’s mother can petition the court to decide on custody and the court will consider the best interests of the child in determining how custody is shared.
While the court does look at who has been providing care over the child’s life, there is no automatic preference for mother and fathers usually get at least visitation time and often joint custody unless there is some reason for the court to believe a father is unfit. If you have primary custody, you can also petition the court to require child support from your child’s mother.
How a Child Custody Lawyer Can Help Fathers
Brown & Charbonneau, LLP represents both fathers and mothers in child custody and child support cases. If you are concerned about asserting your rights to your children or about getting the child support that you believe you are owed, give us a call at (866)237-8129 or contact us online. Our Irvine child support attorneys are here to provide you with help in protecting your kids and making sure that your kids are fully provided for.