Your parental rights as a father are a critical part of your life. Your children benefit when you are able to exercise them. Even though parents may not always agree about custody or other issues affecting the children, your rights are not usually threatened once they are established. Sometimes, you must stand up for your legal rights as a father, but you may not know how to effectively do it on your own. Protecting your own rights is what is better for your children.
Call our Hendersonville family lawyer at Davis Curry Law, both when you are trying to establish your rights, and when you need to fight for them.
North Carolina Law Does Not Automatically Favor the Mother
North Carolina law does not express a presumption in favor of any parent in a custody determination. Instead, the policy favors both parents being involved in a child’s life. North Carolina courts will apply the best interests of the child standard to any question involving the children. The best interests are usually met when the father is an active part of the children’s lives.
Fathers should not think that the mother will automatically obtain custody of the child. If the father can show that the best interests of the child are met, either by joint physical custody or the father having physical custody, they could prevail in a dispute. There is an equal right to child custody.
Visitation and Custody Rights for Fathers
One area in which father’s rights are often an issue is visitation. If the father does not have physical custody, they have a right to spend time with their child. Exactly how much time is determined either by a separation agreement or a court.
There are times when a father needs to fight for the full right to see their children. Your child’s mother cannot deny you the right to spend time with your children on her own.
Any visitation determination must go through the court if the parents cannot agree. If you have visitation time under a court order, you can go to court to enforce it if you are not able to see your children.
Other Father’s Rights Under North Carolina Law
Besides custody and visitation, here are some other rights that fathers have:
- If the father has physical custody, or if there is joint custody with a large disparity in incomes, the father has the right to child support.
- The mother cannot change the child’s last name without agreement from the father or involvement from the court.
- The father has the right to be listed on the birth certificate.
- The right to receive information about the well-being of and critical decisions pertaining to the child
- The right to participate in decision-making if the parents share legal custody
Establishing Father’s Rights in North Carolina
There are several ways that you can establish your rights as a father under North Carolina law:
- If you were married to the child’s mother at the time of the birth, you are presumed to be the father, and you have rights.
- You and the mother can sign a sworn affidavit of paternity that declares you to be the father.
- You can establish that you are the father through a paternity action in court (which will require testing)
Once you are recognized to be the father, you will have the rights described above. If you and the child’s mother are getting a divorce, the separation agreement must recognize your rights. Your role would be detailed in the agreement. If the mother will not reach an agreement that respects your rights, you can go to court and have a judge decide the case.
Fighting Termination of Your Rights
In general, there are limited circumstances in which a father’s right can be terminated without their agreement. It may be alleged that the father is a threat to the safety and welfare of the child. This could be due to the relationship between the father and the child, or an unrelated criminal offense that can call fitness as a parent into question.
The father’s rights could also be challenged if there is extreme disharmony in the relationship with the other parent. Courts do not take it lightly when they are asked to terminate a father’s rights. You have the right to be heard and to present your side of the story before the court makes a decision.
Contact a Father’s Rights Lawyer in Hendersonville, NC Today
You can count on our family law attorney at Davis Curry Law to be there for you throughout the process. We know what you have at stake, and we commit to providing you with diligent legal representation. We understand that fighting for your rights as a father is stressful, and we do everything possible to communicate and listen.
To speak with a father’s rights lawyer, you can reach out to us online or call us today at 828-900-2420. With us, you do not have to be in this alone.