Father's Rights Laws

Authored by , LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

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Most Common Family Law Issues:

What are Father's Rights Laws?

Father's rights are covered in a number of different family law issues.  The main issue with father’s rights usually has to do with custody and visitation, i.e., the father’s rights to spend time with the child. 

Father's rights issues are mainly mentioned in lawsuits and legal claims involving:

Father's rights may differ from state to state, but a presumed father generally has rights to custody and visitation.  Of course, these will vary from case to case, especially if there are instances of neglect or abuse involved.  The right to have a child take their surname on a birth certificate, or the right to have a paternity test are highly specific legal issues that will vary from region to region.

How do Father’s Rights Laws Compare With Mother’s Rights Laws?

Due to common historical assumptions regarding gender, there may be some differences between father's rights laws and mothers’ rights laws.  These have to with traditional notions of the role of the father versus that of the mother (i.e., breadwinner vs. child-rearing functions, etc). 

Thus, these perceived differences tend to still be reflected in some state laws.  For instance, some states laws simply assume that the mother is the primary caretaker and the father is the primary economic earner. 

While some states retain these perceived notions, many states utilize a gender-free approach to family law issues.  Also, an increasing number of states are beginning to recognize and approve non-traditional family structures and parenting arrangements.

What if I Want to Assert My Rights as a Father?

First, you should identify which rights you are attempting to claim, whether it be visitation, custody, the right to make decisions for the child, or other rights.  This will help you concentrate on the important legal issues that you need to raise with an attorney or with a judge.

Next, after you’ve identified which issues and rights you’d like to address, you should begin compiling necessary evidence or documents that might be needed for filing.  For instance, if you need a birth certificate or marriage certificate, you should locate these types of documents and compile them for reference.

Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer for Help With Father's Rights Laws?

For some issues, it may be necessary to hire a lawyer.  Working with a lawyer can help you understand your legal rights as a father, and can help represent you during court if necessary.  Also, a competent and experienced attorney in your area can inform you of any other rights available to you that you might not be aware of. 

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Last Modified: 12-18-2012 03:51 PM PST

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