Historically, mothers were favored by the legal system when it came to rights and obligations to children of divorcing couples. However, changes to the law mean it is becoming more common for parents to split equal time with their children.
Though the law may treat both parents equally, there can still be an underlying prejudice against fathers in the legal system. A Fulton County fathers’ rights lawyer can help you assert your rights. Throughout the divorce process and beyond, a skilled family attorney can be an advocate for the best interests of you and your children.
During a divorce, many fathers worry that their children’s mother will be given preference because she spent more time caring for them. To some extent, this does carry weight. Courts may still be more likely to provide the mother with more time with the children if that was the family dynamic before the divorce. However, fathers who took an active role in parenting their children before their divorce have a better chance of receiving equal or greater parenting time.
Regardless of how involved a father may have been in his children’s lives, it is critical to advocate for an arrangement that is fair.
Georgia law has two kinds of child custody; physical and legal. Legal custody is the power to make decisions for the child regarding issues such as healthcare, religion, medical needs, and education. While parents may share legal custody, one parent generally has final decision-making authority if the two parents cannot agree.
Physical custody refers to where the children physically stay and who cares for them in their day-to-day lives. Parents may also share joint physical custody, though one parent may be designated as the primary custodian of the children. If that is the case, the other parent will have parenting time (also known as visitation) on certain days or times.
There is no rule in Georgia that requires mothers to be the ones who receive these types of custody. Fathers are just as able to have sole custody, shared custody, or joint custody of their children under the law. The only requirement under the law is that the courts act in the best interest of the children. Unless one parent is harming or neglecting a child, there is no reason for parents not to share custody as fully as is possible.
Not all fathers were married to the mother of their children. In Georgia, only the mother of a child born out of wedlock has automatic custody rights to a child. When parents were not married, a father must establish his paternity or legitimize his relationship with his children before seeking parenting time or custody rights.
The mother of a child may file a paternity action in a Georgia court. A paternity action involves a taking DNA test to establish the identity of a child’s father. Often, this type of action is pursued by the mother to establish a basis for child support.
In contrast, only a father brings a legitimation action. While the two are similar, a legitimation action can be used to establish a child as the father’s heir and can be the basis for a court to grant the father parenting time. A Fulton County lawyer can further explain these actions to fathers looking to protect their legal rights.
There is nothing more important to children than their parents. If you are planning on getting a divorce, make sure to protect your rights as a parent. A Fulton County fathers’ rights attorney could work to help you make sure that you are a part of your children’s lives now and in the future. Call today.