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Fathers who are committed to providing love and support to their children sometimes encounter problems that complicate their efforts. When these complications arise, it makes sense to seek counsel from a father’s rights lawyer and explore the options. Here are some of the situations that call for seeking out this type of legal advice and making an informed decision of how to proceed.
There are situations in which there is the need to establish paternity before any type of legal action can take place. The goal is to determine if the client is the biological father of the child. This can be especially important when the parents are not married and the biological mother wishes to place the child up for adoption.
Legal paternity is typically established in one of two ways. The most common approach is for both parties to confirm that they are the biological parents of the child. If there is some doubt, the use of DNA testing can determine with a reasonable degree of assurance that the client is the natural father and pave the way for seeking parental rights.
Seeking Physical Custody of the Child
In decades past, many family courts tended to think of the mother as the most practical choice for the custodial parent. This was usually based on the understanding that the mother would function mainly as a stay at home mom and provide day to day supervision and care for the child.
Today, the family structure is more diverse than in times past. It’s entirely possible that the father would be in a better position to take care of the child on a day to day basis. This is especially true if the father telecommutes for work and is in the home all day. Assuming the mother does work in a position outside the home, a father’s rights lawyer could build a convincing case that the father is in a better position to be on hand and provide a home for the child.
Establishing Child Support
Deciding who will have physical custody of the child is only the beginning. Many men who have such custody do not receive any monetary support from the mother. A lawyer can provide the help needed to petition the court for an equitable amount of child support, usually based on the income of each parent. Unless there are reasons recognized by the court that would exclude awarding child support to the custodial parent, the mother would be expected to contribute financially to the care of the child just as a non-custodial father would be obligated to provide financial support.
Non-Custodial Fathers and Visitation Issues
When the custody arrangement allows the non-custodial father to visitation privileges, it is the expectation of the court that the mother will comply with those arrangements. Should the custodial parent seek to deny visitation, consulting with a lawyer is the possible way to stop those actions before they begin to have a negative impact on the child.
In New York, an attorney is likely to advise the client to make a note of each time visitation is denied. If possible, having a third party present to observe the denial will help. From there, the attorney may choose to contact the custodial parent in writing in an attempt to get things back on track. Should that fail, notifying the court is the next step. Depending on the circumstances, the court may consider the custodial parent to be in contempt and subject to a fine or possibly place the individual under arrest pending a hearing.
Changing Physical Custody
There may come a time when the child will want to live with the non-custodial father full-time. Unlike some other states, New York does not have a minimum age that the child must reach before expressing this desire. Should the child approach the father and state a desire to live with him, it’s time to talk with a lawyer.
Remember that the child wanting to make this type of change is not enough for the court. Ultimately, the focus is on deciding what type of living arrangement is in the child’s interests. If there is evidence that the child would receive better care by living with the father, it is possible to amend the support arrangement, including establishing visitation and child support terms that the former custodial parent is obligated to honor.
Fathers must understand they are not without rights in today’s family courts. When an issue arises, contact an attorney and find out what can be done. The solution may be simpler than the client anticipated.