Fathers are caregivers equally as capable as mothers. However, there is sometimes a bias toward mothers as the preferred custodian for their children, leaving fathers wondering what rights they actually have.
If you are concerned that your rights as a father are being taken advantage of, a West Palm Beach father’s rights lawyer could help. Our dedicated team could work diligently to ensure that you maintain a quality relationship with your children.
Protecting a Father’s Right to Time-Sharing
State law now refers to custody and visitation as time-sharing to eliminate the idea that a child belongs to one parent or the other. The law mandates that judges consider fathers equally when determining child-sharing arrangements. Accordingly, rather than relying on a parent’s gender, courts must consider other factors when deciding how much time a child spends with each parent, including but not limited to:
- Each parent’s ability and willingness to foster a positive relationship between the child and the other parent
- Which parent has traditionally been the child’s primary provider
- Whether a parent’s schedule permits them adequate time to care for the child
- Each parent’s physical and mental health
- The child’s preference for custody considering their age and maturity
Palm Beach County judges may also consider any other factor they deem relevant to their determination of a child’s best interests. A skilled father’s rights attorney could demonstrate to the court the importance of a father’s ongoing role in his child’s life.
Establishing Paternity in Palm Beach County
Under Florida Family Code §742.10, if a woman is not married when she gives birth to her child, the father’s name should not be placed on the birth certificate unless both parents sign an affidavit acknowledging paternity. It is vital for a father to complete this form, as an unmarried father has no legal right to his child without a formal paternity order.
If the mother refuses to sign an acknowledgment and contests paternity, the father can file a petition and ask a judge to declare him the child’s legal father. As part of a paternity action, a court may order the child and the parents to undergo DNA testing. Once paternity is determined, a father may then exercise his rights to custody and time-sharing with his child.
A father who fails to conclusively establish himself as his child’s legal father risks losing his rights to his child. As such, anyone needing to file a paternity action is well-advised to seek counsel from a practiced father’s rights attorney in West Palm Beach.
Fathers Have Child Support Rights
Because fathers may be designated as their child’s primary custodians, they can seek child support from the mother. This can be done either through an independent court action or with the assistance of a state child support enforcement agency.
Additionally, even if a father does not have primary custody, the number of overnights they spend with their child can impact the child support they are obligated to pay. The more time a father spends caring for his child, the less support he may be required to pay directly to the mother. A capable father’s rights attorney understands the child support guidelines in West Palm Beach and knows how to properly consider the time-sharing arrangement when calculating child support.
Seek Guidance from a West Palm Beach Father’s Rights Attorney
State law provides both parents the opportunity to have a close and loving relationship with their child. Unfortunately, men often must still fight fiercely to retain these rights in Palm Beach County courts.
If you are a father whose rights are at risk, contact a member of our seasoned legal team today. A trusted West Palm Beach father’s rights lawyer could advocate for you and ensure that your relationship with your children is protected.