Biological Father vs. Legal Father

What Rights Do Fathers Have? 

A common question that comes up in family law is this: what kinds of rights do fathers have? It is a misconception that fathers do not have the same rights as mothers and that a judge will always side with a mother regarding child support and custody. While it used to be the case that women would be given custody of their children more often than fathers, this has since fallen out of practice. Society sees the value of a child having as much contact with both parents as possible and judges will attempt to make fair and equal decisions when it comes to placing children with parents, all things considered. 

What are the first child custody steps to take? 

One of the first things that must be done when it comes to child custody is establishing paternity. In fact, if a woman is unmarried, she will often be granted sole physical and legal custody of her child until the father comes forward and submits to a paternity test. Further, if a mother names the father on the birth certificate or comes out and states that he is the father, this will typically be taken as fact without question. 

I would like custody of my child but the child’s mother will not let me have a paternity test. What can I do? 

The law is on your side. In the event that you would like to seek custody of your child but are not named as the child’s father, you can go to court and petition them to order paternity testing. This means that you and the child will get tested to determine if your DNA matches that of the child. 

What else is there to do when I would like custody of my child? 

Now that you have established paternity, a Tampa, FL family lawyer from a law firm like The McKinney Law Group knows that the next steps will be to work out some type of custody agreement with the child’s mother. Best case, both the father and the mother can come to an agreement that works for everyone regarding custody arrangements. In the event that the father and mother are unable to come to an agreement, the father can move forward with going to court. This would involve filing a lawsuit against the mother to have custody of the child. Custody may be in the form of: 

  • Physical custody. Determining which parent the child will live with.
  • Legal custody. Having the right to make decisions regarding your child’s life, including their healthcare, where they go to school, and what kind of upbringing you want them to have. 

A judge will often push for joint custody so that both parents can be as involved in the child’s life as possible, assuming both parents are fit to do so. 

If you are looking for help with paternal rights and child custody, it is time to reach out to a local lawyer you can trust.