With America’s socioeconomic changes in recent years, much has changed in respect to fathers’ rights in divorce. With so many dual-income households, and with the surge in stay at home fathers, fathers today are playing more active roles in their children’s upbringing than ever before. This societal shift has been recognized by family courts nationwide and has led to fathers being afforded the same rights to child custody as mothers.
While New York openly acknowledges the importance of a father’s role in recent years, historically, the family courts had a tendency to give mothers preferential treatment when awarding child custody. With that being said, it is in your best interests as a father to be represented by an experienced child custody attorney who will advocate on your behalf. Contact our Albany fathers’ rights lawyers today!
What Are a Father’s Rights in Albany?
It’s important to think of parental rights, whether they be a mother’s or a father’s, in terms of children’s rights. Children have a right to access their parents. Unless the court has a good reason to deny a parent access to their children, the court will enforce visitation schedules and custody arrangements regardless of what the parents want. In so doing, it is assumed that the parent who does not have residential (physical) custody of the children will support the children financially. Additionally, New York State provides that a parent may have a right to visit the child even when they don’t have legal custody.
Physical custody is where the children live with one parent or the other. Legal custody is where a parent has the authority to make important decisions concerning the child’s health care, education, and religion. Thus, a child may live with one parent while both parents share joint custody.
Object to a third-party adoption of a child that would deny them future rights to the children;
Ask the court to have regular contact with their children;
Establish the paternity of a child/children; and
Collaborate on decisions that affect the children.
A fathers’ rights lawyer could help someone with any of these rights.
Child Custody in New York
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 that 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
Based on these factors, a fathers’ rights lawyer in Albany could help protect your rights as a father and build a case that allows you to have access to your child.
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 in Albany specializes in advocating for fathers rights, and of 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. Our Albany lawyers could help someone overcome any of these fathers’ rights challenges.
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 with the help of a lawyer in Albany. This is the first step in gaining parental rights over your child and becoming a key part of their life.
Contact an Albany Fathers’ Rights Attorney
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 fathers’ rights 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.