Fathers have not always been treated fairly by the family court of WA. An experienced fathers’ rights lawyer at Aberdeen Family Law will know how to protect your parental rights in court. Learn more about the history of fathers’ parenting rights and how we can help protect you in child custody disputes. By getting legal advice as soon as possible, you can protect your parental rights in order to maintain healthy parent-child relationships.
The History of Fathers’ Rights
Child custody law has an ugly history in American jurisprudence. In the early days of American law, children were treated as the property of a marriage, and a man was entitled to this property upon divorce. Eventually, this cold approach was rejected in favor of another one that was just as wrong. By the early twentieth century, many people thought that only a mother could provide the nurturing affection that a young child needs. This created a “tender years” presumption in the courts. By this reasoning, many judges would award custody of young children to their mothers by default. This, of course, was just as unfair as awarding custody to fathers by default, even if there was progress in no longer treating children as property.
How the Law Protects Fathers Today
Today, the law clearly states that neither parent is given preference in custody matters due to their gender. The family court must consider what is in the best interest of the child. A parent’s gender will almost never have an effect on these “best interests” determinations. Because of this, fathers can enjoy equal parenting time and jointly make all legal decisions unless the other parent can prove that this is not in the child’s best interest. If the other parent does want to launch such a challenge, he or she will have to provide solid evidence that a father is unfit, and this evidence must go beyond the mere fact that he is a man.
What an Attorney Can Do to Protect Your Parental Rights
So what can an attorney do to protect fathers’ rights in the family court? There are many different challenges that can be made. An attorney’s strategy will depend on what is being challenged and how best to prove that your custody proposals are in the child’s best interests.
In some cases, paternity is presumed by law. A married man is presumed to be the father if his wife has a baby. (This can be rebutted with DNA evidence if another man is the biological father.) Putting a father on a birth certificate also creates a rebuttable presumption of paternity. If neither of these applies, you might have to prove paternity to the family court with a DNA test. Paternity can also be established through an adoption order. An experienced fathers’ rights lawyer can help find the right strategy for any problems you face in proving that you are the legal father of the child.
Child Possession and Access Orders
One of the most important parenting rights a father has is parenting time. Visitation allows fathers to build healthy relationships with their children. When this time is restricted, a relationship with a child can deteriorate. A mother does not have the right to unilaterally restrict a father’s access to his children. If the parents cannot agree on a schedule for parenting time, the court can order “child possession and access orders.” These orders set a schedule for parenting time. The court does not give preference to either parent’s schedule. Instead, the access order must be made in the best interest of the children.
Conservatorship (Legal Decision Making)
The right to make legal decisions on behalf of your child has far-reaching consequences. School, religion, medical care, and other critical decisions will have a huge impact on your child’s future. This is why it is important for fathers to participate in these decisions throughout the child’s life. Many parents agree to make these decisions jointly. This is called a “joint conservatorship,” and it means that the parents must make these important decisions together. Neither parent can unilaterally decide, and if the parents cannot agree, they must find a way to make the ultimate decision. If one parent wants the ability to make decisions without the other, he or she must prove to the court that joint conservatorship would not be in the child’s best interests.
Call Us Today to Speak with a Fathers’ Rights Lawyer in Bellevue, WA
At Aberdeen Family Law, we fight hard to defend the parental rights of fathers. Our experienced child custody lawyers know how to fight gender discrimination in child custody cases. We have helped many fathers protect their rights to parenting time and legal decision making in order to maintain healthy relationships with their children. Call 206-790-6430 to schedule your consultation.