What Are Father’s Rights?

You might not know anything about father’s rights. If all you know about custody cases stems from what you see in movies and TV, you could be forgiven for thinking that the mother of the child always wins and the dad is always some kind of deadbeat. Don’t fall into this way of thinking — the courts are increasingly looking at the father as the best option for the child and many dads take their child rearing responsibilities seriously.

There is a burgeoning father’s rights movement in the United States and Family Matters Law Group is proud to support it. We believe in fighting hard for the best interests of the children, whichever parent may be best at providing those. 

Here is a basic overview of some of the main ideas about father’s rights.

Married vs. Unmarried

Married fathers do have an advantage in court. If they are married to the biological mother of the children, the court can assume that the father is the biological father and assign custody accordingly. That means sharing legal and physical custody, as well as being eligible for an award of primary physical custody.

An unmarried father has several legal hurdles to fight through before they can ask for custody or visitation privileges. First, they have to prove paternity — are they the biological father of the child? Beyond that, they also must prove legitimation — do they have a significant relationship with the child?

While you may have fathered the child, that doesn’t necessarily mean you play a part in the child’s life to the degree that the court wants to award you shared custody or visitation privileges.

Proving Paternity

You can prove that you are the biological parent of the child in several ways, the easiest being having your name put on the birth certificate at the hospital when the child is born and acknowledging paternity. 

The more costly but highly recommended way is to have a DNA test, thus establishing with concrete proof that you are the biological father. This test is especially important, because if you sign the birth certificate or acknowledge paternity, you can be legally obligated to provide for a child that isn’t your biological child.

Proving Legitimation

With legitimation, you are proving to the court that there is a significant relationship between father and child. You are showing the court that you need to be involved in the child’s life more than just paying child support.

This is serious. Without legitimation, but with paternity proven, you will end up paying child support but not receive any custodial or visitation rights. In essence, you would be taking responsibility for fathering the child, but not have any of the other benefits of fatherhood.

Hiring An Experienced Attorney Is Your First Step

With so much at stake with a paternity or legitimation petition, the one thing you must do to ensure that you receive the rights you deserve is to hire an experienced and caring family attorney. They can guide you through the process of asking the courts for your rights, as well as offering advice on what evidence you need to prove your case to the court.

At Family Matters Law Group, we fight hard for fathers so they can step up and take care of their responsibilities, giving their children a chance to have the significant paternal relationship that they will appreciate their whole life. If you reside in Henry, Clayton, or Fayette counties, or need help with a case in the metro Atlanta area, contact our office today either online or by phone.  We’re ready to listen and fight for you.