In cases where the parents cannot agree on child custody, the court will have to decide for them. Rather than choosing the mother automatically, the presiding judge will make a decision based on the best interests of the children.
Factors the court considers when awarding custody:
- Which parent has been the main caregiver
- Each parent’s ability to provide for the child’s material needs
- The mental and physical health of each parent
- Work schedules and childcare plans of each parent
- The child’s relationship with siblings
- Any history of domestic violence
- Substance or alcohol abuse
- The child’s desires, depending on the child’s age
Challenges Fathers Can Face in Custody Determination
Although the roles that men and women play in the workplace and in their homes have evolved over the past few decades, it is still more common for women to stay home with their children and act as their primary caregivers than it is for men. If your marriage followed this pattern, you can face difficulties seeking a fair split of parenting time with your former spouse. If you tend to work long hours, this can compound the problem.
But do not assume that the court will not consider creating a custody arrangement that gives you at least half of your child’s parenting time simply because your spouse stayed home or you work long hours. Other factors, like your ability to provide for your child financially and the conditions present in your household, are considered too. Our team of lawyers specializes in advocating for fathers seeking physical and legal custody of their children.
If our team feels that the judge handling your case is unfairly discriminating against you because of your gender, we will not allow you to suffer. We will fight for your right as a parent to have a consistent, sufficient relationship with your child. Discriminating against an individual because of his or her gender is an act in bad faith. We are prepared to appeal any rulings that we feel were made in bad faith.
Overcoming Challenges Specific to Fathers
Any allegations made against your parenting ability can be fought with evidence to the contrary. If your former spouse claims that you have a history of domestic violence, you can demonstrate the truth by showing the court your clean criminal record. If you are accused of being uninvolved in your child’s life, testimonies from your child’s teachers, doctor, and a child psychologist can demonstrate your involvement in your child’s life. These testimonies can also be used to show the court that you are seeking your fair share of your child’s custody not because you want to reduce your child support obligation, but because you want to continue to maintain your relationship with your child.
In some cases, overcoming a gender bias in your custody ruling can require you to involve outside professionals in your case. For example, you might undergo a psychological evaluation to assess your fitness as a parent. Be truthful about your relationship with your child and your capacity to provide for him or her. It can be easy to feel intimidated and even feel that the cards are stacked against you in the custody determination, but be persistent and cooperative with the court. One of the factors the court considers when determining a custody arrangement is each parent’s willingness to cooperate with court orders.
Establishing Paternity in New York State
When a child is born out of wedlock, New York State acknowledges no legal guardianship over the child. In other words, the child has no legal father. If you are married, then the courts will assume that you are the father regardless of biologically fathered the child.
If you aren’t married to the mother of your child, it is important to establish paternity early in the process. In some cases, the mother may attempt to hide paternity from you or claim that you are the father when you are not. The latter is a different situation entirely and outside the scope of this article. If you want to establish your paternity of a child, New York State makes this process fairly easy even if you are not married.
As the father, you could sign a voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity Form. Alternatively, you can force the court to intervene on your behalf to determine the paternity of a child. In either case, if you are the biological father of the child, your parental rights can be established. This is the first step in gaining parental rights over your child and becoming a key part of their life.
Let Us Protect Your Rights to Your Children
Studies show that children do much better emotionally and academically when they have their father actively involved in their lives. As a father that is separating or divorcing, you may be experiencing one of the most stressful and painful times in your life, with many changes and adjustments to make.
If you fear parental alienation or your case resulting in an unfavorable outcome in regards to child custody and visitation, we urge you to contact an Albany family law lawyer from The Colwell Law Group, LLC. With our services, we will be your greatest legal advocates and will ensure that your rights to your children are zealously protected.