Going through a child custody fight or through a divorce can be incredibly stressful. The frustration and emotional stress is only a small factor in this difficult legal battle. When a child is involved, both parents will often be concerned about the outcome of the legal proceedings. Historically, when a child is involved in a custody fight, the mother was always preferred as the custodian of the child. This practice was based on the now-outdated theory of “tender years doctrine.
” However, times are slowly changing and more and more fathers receive full custody of their child.
What does this shift in paternity law mean to fathers? How can they take advantage of this new way of thought and approach to custody fights? Is paternity an issue? How can it be established? Should you hire a paternity lawyer? Let's see some answers to these questions. Let's see how you can win your rights as the father of your child:
The first step when trying to get the full custody of your child is a negotiation. This should obviously be done before going to court or filing a lawsuit. Ideally, you should get advice from a good paternity lawyer during this phase. Try to communicate with the mother of the child (and the child, if it is possible) and try to establish a parenting plan. In some jurisdictions, this plan is also known as a custody judgment). If you are successful and reach an agreement, it will help you tremendously in avoiding costs and emotional stress. A successful agreement should include custody arrangements, decision making, visitations, scheduling, and other factors. If possible, hire an attorney to help you through this process.
In order to increase your chance of getting full custody, you must be present as a father. You have to be there for your child. This includes attending sports games, doctor appointments, school and parent meetings or picking up the child from school. You should also try to get involved in your child's life – know his or her teachers, coaches or doctors. Be a part of his or her life. This aspect is very important and will be taken into consideration by the judge.
Use your earning power
Men are often the higher earners in most families, and this aspect should be used to your advantage. Make sure the court knows your income and how you can use it in order to support your child. Although it's not a very “moral” way to gain respect in the courtroom, money talks. The judge will ultimately pay attention to a parent who has good earning power and is reliable when it comes to finances.
Show that you are a good parent by providing references. You should be a good father in the eyes of others and they should be able to point this out to the judge. Everyone will pay attention to your personality, to your demeanor, to your style and emotions. Get involved in a church or a volunteer program and be part of the community. People that know you closely will be asked to be your references and your chances of getting full custody will grow. Talk to a paternity lawyer to learn more about how references work.
Getting remarried – a good way to increase your score
Don't think that if you remarry your chances go down the drain. They do not. Even though you are divorced from the mother of the child, the court will see you as a reliable member of the community if you are able to remarry. What's more, the child will likely have a mother figure at home, present at all times. Essentially, the new household is seen as complete – with both a father and a mother (although not biological).
Establishing paternity as an unmarried father
Paternity law is fairly complex because the biological father is not inherently obvious in many cases. There are many reasons why you need to prove paternity, and the result of this test can mean a lot to you and your child's life. The successful establishment of paternity can provide a child with numerous benefits – health and life insurance, family medical history, financial support and a right to inheritance. Also, military or social security are other benefits. For the father, the establishment will guarantee access to the child, visitations, custody rights and a say in legal decisions that affect the child. Ideally, you will need a paternity attorney to help you understand this complex legal issue.
There are five ways to establish legal paternity. Each of these ways is viable in multiple states, according to paternity law. Let's take a closer look:
marriage – if the man is married and a child is born, he is legally recognized as the father of the child; no other action is required
acknowledgment of paternity – if the couple is unmarried, both parties can sign a document that states the father of the child is the man who signs the document; this document can be completed at the hospital or at a later date; this method cannot be used if the woman is already married;
court order – if the paternity is disputed, a judge may issue a court order to determine the paternity of the child; evidence for paternity can include genetic tests;
administrative order based on genetic testing – an administrative order can be issued if a DNA test is performed;
legitimation – if an unmarried couple has a child and then marries, the man is considered the legal father of the child; in order to be added as the father on the child's birth certificate, the documentation must be sent to the Office of Vital Statistics in order to be assessed; after successful assessment, the Affirmation of Common Child Born in (respective State) is issued.