Fathers are an important part of a child’s life. Though this role is important, there are many different ways to be a father. Some fathers are very involved with their children, while others find it healthier for everyone if they stay away. No matter what the situation may be, fathers play a central role in most family dynamics.
Many people falsely believe that children will always be placed with their mother in a divorce or that the mother has the advantage for childcare. This is absolutely untrue. A parent’s gender has nothing to do with their ability to properly care for their children. Though public misconception does not always recognize this, the law, fortunately, does.
Whether you are a father, are the parent of a child with a father, or are exploring parenthood, it is important for you to know the rights and responsibilities of a child’s father. Knowing this information can help you to better care for your child, as well as take legal action if something should go wrong.
When it comes to fathers’ rights, no other Charleston attorneys can represent you the way that the team at Erica Lord Law Group can. We have over two decades of experience in the legal sector and have been facing family law issues for much of that time. Parental rights are central to what we do, and we feel confident that we can provide excellent legal services in your case.
We understand that child custody, child support, and other fathers’ rights issues can put you in a vulnerable position. We honor this by providing approachable, nonjudgmental legal advice to all our clients. When you work with us, you can be sure that we will take the time to listen to and respect your experience while working diligently for the outcome that you need.
According to the law, both parents of a child should contribute equally to the care and upbringing of their child unless a different situation has been legally decided upon. In situations of divorce, the court will assess the healthiest situation for the child in question. In some situations, that means that the parents have joint custody, while in other situations it means that one parent has sole custody. Many different arrangements can occur.
Fathers’ rights encompass the idea that a father inherently has the right to parent their children. Their gender does not keep them from being good parents to their children. Fathers should have equal access to their children as long as they are fit to be a parent. This means that child support, child custody, and visitation should all be taken into consideration.
Exercising your rights as a father can become complicated or even impossible when you are not legally named as the father of your child.
In the state of West Virginia, if the parents of a child are not married at the time the baby is born, paternity is not assumed. In other words, when an unmarried couple has a child, the mother automatically gets sole custody, and the child does not legally have a father. To establish paternity in the eyes of the law, the father can file a Paternity Acknowledgement form through the hospital. They may also sign a form through the Department of Health and Environmental Control or the health department in the county where the child was born.
In some situations, fathers are unsure as to whether they are the biological father of a child. In these situations, they may approach the Child Support Enforcement Division of the Department of Social Services. This department can arrange for a DNA paternity test, which will reveal whether the presenting male is the child’s father.
When paternity is definitively established, the father can exercise his rights. Without definitive paternity, fathers may have no right to their children, even if they are active in their child’s life and are sure they are the child’s father.
When a couple gets divorced, the court will determine what custody arrangement is best for the child or children at hand. They will take into account the child’s relationship with both parents, each parent’s ability to care for the child’s physical and emotional needs, school locations, and more. Ultimately, the child’s well being is the only priority for the court.
A fathers’ rights attorney can help to advocate for you as the father of a child. We can show the court that you are a fit parent and should have access to your child or children. Even if shared custody is not an option for some reason, we can help you to advocate for partial custody or visitation rights to ensure that you have access to your kids.
This can be extremely important. When a father has no legal claim to his children, the mother makes all the decisions regarding their wellbeing, lifestyle, and living situation. If she chooses not to let the father see the child or children, he cannot do so. Establishing paternity and fighting for parental rights can allow a father legal grounds to see and spend time with his children. In this situation, the mother cannot refuse or keep the child from their father.
As mentioned, parents have the obligation to care for their children, no matter the situation. In setups where equal custody is not appropriate or possible, one parent may need to pay child support to compensate for their diminished physical involvement. Establishing paternity ensures that you can pay necessary child support and fulfill your obligation to your child.
However, establishing paternity also ensures that you get the support that you need as a father. In many situations, a child’s father is the healthiest option for a primary caregiver. If you have full custody of your child, the child’s mother should pay child support to you. Child support payments are not possible unless paternity is definitive and legally established.
Your taxes may be affected by your child custody situation, especially if you are going through a divorce as well. You may be able to claim your child as a dependent, but this depends upon how much time you spend raising them and housing them. There are specific forms and addendums you can fill out for your taxes that allow you to claim all your support for your children, even if you do not have full custody. Consult a tax attorney to help you with your taxes following a divorce or father’s rights case.
To gain visitation or custody rights, a father must establish paternity and present the results in court. The court will assess if the father is fit to be around his children. If he is, they will grant visitation.
If you have been denied visitation because of an issue such as alcoholism, abuse, or lack of income, you may be able to re-petition the court once you have taken definitive steps to rectify the situation (i.e., attended rehabilitation, got a job, etc.)
Fathers absolutely have rights in West Virginia. However, fatherhood must be definitively established for these rights to apply. If you are unmarried at the time of your child’s birth, you are not considered the father unless you take the necessary steps to declare paternity. If you fail to do this, you may have to take a DNA test to prove that you have rights regarding your child.
The price of hiring a fathers’ rights lawyer in West Virginia will depend on several factors. All attorneys have their own fee structure and rates, so it is important to discuss finances with any potential attorneys before you begin to work with them. Many attorneys charge by the hour, and rates can vary widely.
If you are a Charleston father, you have all the same rights as your child’s mother. This includes:
Your individual rights will vary based on your personal situation. If you have a criminal record, are jobless or are experiencing homelessness, or have an addiction, you may not receive the same access to your children as fathers who are not experiencing these things.
Here at Erica Lord Law Group, we pride ourselves on giving fathers the rights and access that they deserve. We know how important a father can be to his children and believe that everyone has the right to a father-child relationship.
For more information on how we can help you establish fathers’ rights in Charleston, contact Erica Lord Law Group today.