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Although the topic of this Web page is fathers’ rights, it could likewise be about mothers’ rights, because in the eyes of the law, mothers’ and fathers’ rights are indistinguishable with regard to custody, visitation and support. It is not the case as it was in generations past that mothers are automatically given preference as custodial parents when parents are separated or divorced. Whether married, divorced or unmarried, a mother and a father both have rights and responsibilities with regard to children by birth as well as adopted children.

What Unmarried Fathers Need to Know

Unmarried fathers should keep in mind the following reality concerning never-married parents:

“When parents are not married to each other when their child is born, the biological father has no legal right to custody or parenting time until paternity is legally established and the court orders custody and parenting time. The court also will not order child support until paternity is legally established.” (Source: Planning for Parenting Time: Arizona’s Guide for Parents Living Apart © 2009 Arizona Supreme Court)

We’ll Work Hard to Protect Your Rights

Talk to a family law attorney to learn how to get a court to recognize you as the father of your child if you and the mother are not married to each other. If you are unmarried, the mother’s word is not enough to confirm or disprove your paternity. To confirm your paternity, you will need to sign a formal acknowledgement and have it recognized through a court order. Formal determination of paternity is in the best interests of your child and clarifies the legal rights and responsibilities of both parents. Protect yourself against future allegations of kidnapping by having your identity as the father formally recognized by the court.

Some Things to Consider if You’re Considering Divorce

If you are married and in the process of divorce, you have different concerns. Assuming you were married at the time your child was born, you are presumed to be the father. You are more likely to be concerned about child support, custody and parenting time.

  • You may want to petition to have primary custody or sole custody of your child or children, depending on circumstances.
  • You may want to ensure that a joint or shared custody arrangement is workable with regard to your work schedule and your and the mother’s location.
  • You may want to protest your wife’s or ex-wife’s plans to relocate with your children, making visitation time for you a challenge.
  • If you are overseas in the military, or if you travel often for your job, you may want legal help ensuring that your parents, the grandparents of your children, will have the right to exercise your visitation rights when you are out of reach.
  • You may want reassurance that you are not being required to pay more child support than necessary.
  • You may wonder if your soon-to-be ex-wife, who earns more than you do, should pay you child support.
  • You may wonder how the number of days that your child is in your custody will affect your or the mother’s child support obligations.
  • You may wonder how your self-employed status will or should affect your child support obligations especially when income varies greatly from month to month in your self-owned business.

Laws regarding paternity, child custody, child visitation and child support are very specific. Individual circumstances may vary greatly. A consultation with a knowledgeable family law attorney is an important first step in establishing your rights as a father to be involved in your child’s life, to have your fair share of parenting time, and to have your child support obligations be determined fairly.

Contact Our Family Law Firm

At Lasiter & Jackson, we provide understanding and compassion for the delicate issues associated with divorce and family law. We are committed to obtaining positive results for each of our clients and we strive to provide qualified case assessment at a reasonable cost.

Contact our law office in Phoenix. Father rights? Lawyer Stephanie Jackson and lawyer Nicole Lasiter can clarify your legal position with regard to your children and help you protect your rights as a father. We represent clients throughout Maricopa and Pinal County. Equal custody rights and fair application of child support obligations are common concerns of both male and female clients of our law firm.

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