What are My Rights as a Father?
New York law regarding fathers’ rights has changed dramatically. Not too long ago, judges automatically gave mothers custody and ordered fathers to pay child support and alimony. Today, courts treat mothers and fathers equally—in theory. However, we see far too many fathers not protect their rights during a divorce.
Fathers Have a Right to Temporary or Permanent Custody
As soon as someone files the divorce papers, a judge will award temporary custody of the children. This temporary custody will last until the divorce is finalized, at which point the judge will enter a permanent custody order.
Unfortunately, too many fathers passively let the legal process play out without realizing that it is very easy for temporary custody orders to ripen into permanent custody orders. For this reason, fathers need to either ask for temporary custody themselves or stay very involved with their children. Fathers absolutely have a right to see their children during the divorce. However, many fathers lose contact during the divorce process, which almost makes it inevitable that the mother will get custody after the divorce.
If you initiated divorce, or if your spouse did, you should discuss with your divorce attorney whether to seek temporary custody. If you choose not to, develop an action plan for staying in close contact with your children, especially if you want custody after divorce.
Fathers Have a Right to Visitation
If you do not get custody, you should probably be awarded visitation. In fact, the judge should approve a parenting plan as part of the divorce. This plan should explain in detail when you will see your children.
Sometimes, the custodial parent does not always follow the parenting plan and skips visitations. Your ex might have a laundry list of excuses, such as a sudden illness or emergency that prevents her from dropping your children off to see you. Regardless of the excuse given, you should still show up to the drop-off location at the appointed time. Fully document that the visitation did not take place and then speak to a lawyer about your options.
If a judge finds that your ex is deliberately violating the parenting plan, he can act to coerce compliance. For example, a judge might fine your ex or send her to jail for a few days after finding her in contempt of court.
Fathers Have a Right to Child Support
Fathers can also receive child support in New York if they are the custodial parent. In New York, child support is determined based on a formula. Generally, this formula considers the number of children you must support as well as the non-custodial parent’s income. You can estimate the amount of child support you can receive by using this chart.
Discuss Your Rights with a Saratoga County Fathers’ Rights Attorney
Divorce is a stressful experience, and many fathers feel overwhelmed. At the Colwell Law Group, we help fathers protect their rights and are eager to help you preserve your relationship with your children. To schedule your consultation, please call 518-631-3954.
Parental Rights for Unmarried Parents
Parents have certain rights to, and responsibilities for, their children. In New York, these parental rights are bestowed regardless of whether or not the couple is married at the time of their child’s birth. That being said, there are also important differences that unmarried parents should be aware of if they are going through a child custody or child time-sharing dispute. Here, our experienced Albany, NY child custody attorneys discuss some of the important things that unmarried couples need to know about parental rights.
Unmarried Parents Have Similar Legal Rights as Married Parents
One of the most important things that unmarried parents need to understand is that they largely have the exact same legal rights as married parents. This is true for both mothers and fathers. Under New York law, an unmarried mother or unmarried father may be able to make a claim for child custody, child visitation rights or for child support. You should not face any sort of legal penalty simply due to the fact that you were not married when you had a child.
The Best Interests of the Child Standard Still Controls Disputes
Unmarried parents should be aware of the general child custody and child visitation rules in the state. Under New York law, all child custody and child time-sharing issues are resolved by family law courts under the best interests of the child legal standard. In the most simple terms, this legal standard requires family law courts to center on what is best for the child. When making any type of ruling, the court will need to consider a child’s:
- Physical safety,
- Education; and
- Emotional well-being when making any rulings.
Of course, the implications of this standard mean that the parents’ wishes and desires will always take a backseat to what is best for the child.
Paternity May Need to Be Established
The primary difference between parental disputes involving married couples and unmarried couples is that paternity frequently becomes an issue in cases involving unmarried parents. Certainly, for unmarried mothers, their relationship to their child is not hard to establish. However, the issue becomes more challenging for an unmarried father. Paternity is not necessarily assumed, unless the father has signed a legally valid voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form.
Taking legal action to prove paternity is often necessary for unmarried mothers and unmarried fathers. For a mother, she may need to fight to prove paternity so that she can seek the child support payments that are rightfully owed under the law. Or, an unmarried father may need to prove paternity so that he can access the rest of his parental rights.
Contact Our Albany Family Law Attorneys Today
At the Colwell Law Group, LLC, our Saratoga County paternity lawyers have extensive experience handling all types of child custody and child visitation cases. If you are an unmarried parent in need of legal assistance, please do not hesitate to contact our team today by calling (518) 213-4204 or reaching out to us directly online. From our office in Albany, we serve parents throughout the region, including in Schenectady County, Saratoga County, Albany County and Greene County.
Tips for Dads Going Through Divorce
American society has changed a lot in the last 50 years. Prior to the 1970s, child custody disputes were relatively rare. Not only was divorce less common, but many state laws automatically granted custody to the mother whenever a marital separation occurred. However, the laws have changed. In the modern day, child custody laws are gender neutral. Both parents have a legal right to custody.
Still, societal changes are not always as fast as legal changes. According to data from the United States Census Bureau, fathers only have primary custody about one sixth (13 percent) of the time. As a father, you need to be prepared to protect your parental rights. In this post, our experienced Albany fathers’ rights lawyers highlight four of the most important things that dads need to know when going through a divorce.
Four Tips for Fathers Going Through a Divorce in New York
1. Be Ready to Assert Your Fathers’ Rights in Albany
The state of New York uses the ‘best interests of the child’ legal standard. To protect your child custody rights, you need to be able to prove that you can provide the best overall environment for your child. Please avoid getting into arguments with your spouse in front of your children. Instead, work with an Albany child custody lawyer who can help you carefully assemble evidence that will prove that you can provide a great, healthy environment for your kids.
2. Stay Close to the Home and in Your Child’s Life
One of the biggest mistakes that fathers make is that they sometimes move out or move away while the divorce is ongoing. In essence, they let their wife stay in the home with the children, giving them space during the separation. This act of good faith can actually come back to haunt you in a child custody case. While moving out can be acceptable, you need to stay closely involved in your child’s life throughout the entire divorce process.
3. Know the Rules on Child Support
Depending on the specific facts of the case, either mothers or fathers may potentially be awarded child support. Though, for many different reasons, fathers are generally the parties that pay child support. If you are going through a divorce, you need to know the New York rules on child support. It is time to get your finances in order.
4. Challenge Any False Allegations of Abuse or Misconduct
Unfortunately, some divorces involve false allegations of domestic violence, substance abuse, child abuse, parental negligence, or another type of serious misconduct. Domestic violence or abuse can have a dramatic effect on your legal case. You need to aggressively challenge any false allegations that have been made against you. If your former spouse is making false claims, please contact an experienced New York family law attorney immediately.
Contact Our New York Fathers’ Rights Attorneys Today
At The Colwell Law Group, LLC, we are ready to advocate for your rights. If you are a father who is getting divorced in New York, call us today for a private consultation. We have offices in Albany and Saratoga Springs, and we represent clients throughout the region, including in Columbia County, Fulton County, Ulster County, and Warren County.
Establishing paternity comes with numerous benefits. If you are not married to the mother of your child, you are not the legal father even though you are the biological father. If you want to have a strong role in your child’s life, consider establishing paternity. Get your paternity questions answered and learn how the process works.
Acknowledgement of Paternity
In the best-case scenario, both parents will want the child’s biological father to become the legal father. If there is agreement on this front, both parents can sign a form called an Acknowledgement of Paternity. Both parents must sign the form, and two unrelated individuals must be witnesses. A common time to fill out this form is when the child is born, although it can be completed later.
Order of Filiation
Unfortunately, there is not always agreement between both parents. In this situation, one of the parents can set up a paternity hearing by filing a petition. The court will then order genetic testing for the child, mother and alleged father. If the genetic tests show that the father is the biological father, an order of filiation will be issued.
The Father’s Benefits
Once legally recognized as the child’s father, the benefits include:
- The father’s name added to the child’s birth certificate
- The right to pursue custody and visitation from the court
- Influence in any future adoption proceedings
Establishing paternity allows fathers to stay involved and have an influential role in their child’s life.
The Child’s Benefits
Benefits of paternity extend far beyond the father. The child can enjoy the following advantages as well:
- Child support
- Life insurance
- Medical insurance
- Inheritance rights
- Worker’s compensation
The child also gains the ability to access the father’s medical history, which can assist in receiving medical care or learning about genetic conditions.
The Mother’s Benefits
Even though it may seem like paternity disproportionately benefits the father, mothers can also experience advantages, including:
- Shared medical costs
- Shared education costs
- File for child support
Paternity takes some of the financial weight off of the mother so that she doesn’t have to handle everything alone.
Contact a New York Child Custody Lawyer Today
Establishing paternity is life changing for everyone involved. The core focus of paternity is providing children with the protection they deserve. If you are considering establishing paternity or have further questions, you should consult with a family law attorney. Regardless of whether your child is recently born or several years old already, it is crucial for you to fully understand your rights and options regarding paternity.
Financial Implications of Paternity
Some unmarried Albany fathers might believe that they do not owe any responsibility to their children, and that the financial responsibility of being a father should not be imposed upon them by women who choose to have their babies. They try to claim that a woman who decides to stay pregnant should be the one who bears the financial consequences and time commitments associated with being a parent.
Paternity in New York
However, the law says that this is not the case. The parents whose genes led to the birth of the child are seen by the law as the ones who are responsible for the child’s upbringing. It does not matter if the parents want to be parents or not. At the very least, they will be financially responsible for caring for the child — unless the child is given up for adoption — and the responsibility will stay until the child matures into adulthood.
In this respect, men can become fathers against their personal wills if the women with whom they engaged in sexual activity have children. The general view is that if a man agrees to engage in sexual activity with a woman, then he has risked the potential outcome of becoming a father. If the man preferred to avoid paternity, then he should have abstained from having sexual intercourse in the first place, or underwent a sterilization procedure. Some biological fathers might not agree that this view is fair, but that is how the law will generally treat matters when the notion of paternal responsibility — specifically financial responsibility — is challenged.
Contact an Experienced New York Child Support Attorney
New York fathers facing accusations of paternity may want to obtain the guidance and assistance of a family law attorney to help them navigate their cases. In some situations, a man might prove that he is not the father of a child through DNA testing. In other situations, a man can do the exact opposite — prove paternity through DNA testing — or protect his legal rights in other ways during family law proceedings.
Source: FindLaw, “When Oral Sex Results in a Pregnancy: Can Men Ever Escape Paternity Obligations?,” accessed Nov. 02, 2016.