If you are a father in a dispute with your child’s mother—whether she is your wife, ex-wife, or a former partner you were never married to—you might feel at a disadvantage. A perception exists that courts favor women in disputes that impact children.
Although courts favored mothers for decades, the law now requires them to make decisions concerning children without considering gender. However, some judges still have biases, and sometimes fathers need an aggressive family attorney to protect their interests. A Red Bank father’s rights lawyer could ensure a judge hears your side of the dispute and understands the importance of your role in your children’s wellbeing.
When parents separate or divorce, one parent is the primary residential parent, and the other is the alternate residential parent. One parent gets the designation “primary” even if the parents share custody equally and the children spend roughly the same time with each parent. Parents can arrange custody, visitation, and decision-making authority between themselves, but a judge will do it if the parents cannot agree.
Tennessee Code Annotated §36-6-101 requires judges to make gender-blind custody determinations and base custody decisions on the children’s best interests. The factors a judge must consider when evaluating the children’s best interests include each parent’s:
Judges must consider the preferences of children over 12 and may consider the wishes of younger children in some circumstances.
A father who takes an active role in caring for the children has as good a chance as the mother of gaining primary residential parental status. A capable Red Bank father’s rights attorney could highlight the father’s experiences as the children’s caretaker and make a strong argument for the father to continue in that role.
Child support must be decided after the custody arrangement is complete. The amount of child support and who pays it depends on how many nights per year each child sleeps at each parent’s house. The alternate residential parent typically pays the primary residential parent. Again, gender does not influence the child support obligation, and a formula determines the minimum acceptable amount.
Sometimes parents connect child support with access to the children. If a parent falls behind on support, the other parent might deny access to the children. Other times a parent paying child support may disagree with the way the receiving parent uses it and stops paying.
It is unacceptable to link child support and visitation in this way. The children have the right to financial support and a relationship with both parents. A father who is not getting access to his children or who believes a mother is misusing child support should contact a seasoned father’s rights lawyer in Red Bank to discuss legal remedies.
A child born to an unmarried mother has only one legal parent. The couple can establish a man as the baby’s legal father by signing a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity at the hospital or in front of a notary after the baby’s birth. Both parents must sign the Acknowledgment of Paternity.
Sometimes a father is unaware of a birth until after it happens, or a mother refuses to acknowledge the father. A man who wishes to gain legal parental rights in the state of Tennessee must file a motion in court to establish paternity. Unless the mother admits the man is the father, the court orders DNA testing. If the test indicates the man is the child’s father, it will issue a Declaration of Parentage, and the man will have legal parental rights.
Men who are legal fathers to children born outside of marriage have an obligation to pay child support and the right to seek custody and visitation. Courts will enforce the child support obligation, but if the man has had little or no relationship with the child, a court might be cautious about visitation and order a gradual process of increased time with the child. A skilled Red Bank attorney could help a father argue for the right to get to know his child.
Divorce or a troubled relationship with your child’s mother does not have to deprive you of a fulfilling relationship with your children. The law no longer automatically favors mothers over fathers, and it respects your right to parent your children.
Talk to a Red Bank father’s rights lawyer about your concerns. They could help you convince a judge that your active, daily participation in your children’s lives is in their best interests. Call today to schedule a consultation with a dedicated attorney.