The relationship between a father and his children is irreplaceable. Although in the past, Georgia courts gave mothers preference in child custody agreements. Today, the law gives both parents equal rights and responsibilities.
Even though the law may be equal, many fathers still fight an uphill battle in family law cases. A Forsyth County fathers’ rights lawyer can help you assert your rights as a parent. By working with a dedicated team of family law attorneys, you can work toward an arrangement that is best for you and your children.
Fathers who never married their child’s mother may have extra hurdles to cross before they can negotiate custody or visitation. An unmarried father must first establish his paternity before he is entitled to paternal rights. Unmarried fathers can establish their biological paternity by signing an Acknowledgment of Paternity form and filing it with the state. They can also begin a paternity action asking the court to declare them the biological father.
A legitimation action usually follows or is part of a paternity case. Legitimation actions declare that a biological father is also the legal father, and thus has rights to child custody, visitation, and child support. Without legitimation, a father legally has no rights to custody over his children. The child’s mother will have all parental power, and the father may have no say. Legitimation protects the father’s rights and establishes his identity and relationship with the child.
Fathers who were married to the mothers of their children when they were born generally do not have to take these actions. Georgia law assumes that a child born in wedlock is the legal child of the two married individuals. A Forsyth County fathers’ rights attorney can examine the specific circumstances to determine what actions may be necessary.
Once a father’s rights have been established, either through marriage or legitimation, a court can grant him a petition for child custody, visitation, or parenting time. The parents of a child can then either negotiate a timesharing arrangement and child support plan themselves during mediation or allow the judge to make these decisions for them.
Judges in each case look at many factors that may indicate what is in the best interests of the children and make decisions on those grounds. For example, if a mother has spent more time with the children, a court may decide to make her the primary custodial parent or give the father less parenting time with his children.
Regardless of a father’s prior relationship with his children, he deserves to exercise his parenting rights fully and should not be excluded from asking for more parenting time. Fathers can generally continue to petition the court for more access to their children until their time is relatively equal.
A proactive team of Forsyth County fathers’ rights attorneys can help you assert your legal rights to your children. If you are getting divorced, fighting a child custody case, or are concerned about losing time with your kids, contact our team today.