Hanover Fathers’ Rights Lawyer
Fathers should have a significant role in their child’s life; a role that is seen as just as important as a mother’s role. While Massachusetts law generally presumes that fathers and mothers are equal, there are some situations where you, as a father, may have to take additional steps to protect your relationship with your child.
If you need help protecting and exercising your paternal rights, reach out to the extraordinary attorneys at our firm. With over 35 years of exclusive family law experience, one of our Hanover fathers’ rights lawyers can help you throughout these legal proceedings and work to protect your relationship with your children.
What Are a Father’s Legal Rights?
Individuals who have legally established their fatherhood have the right to have a relationship with their child as long as it is in the child’s best interests. As such, fathers may petition a court to establish a set visitation schedule if they cannot agree on a parenting plan with the child’s mother. In these legal proceedings a father must prove that he can provide a safe and stable home for his child to obtain custody and visitation time.
If the parents are married, a father is automatically granted joint custody over his children, which can only be taken away in situations where there are physical or emotional safety concerns. However, if a father is not married to the mother of his child, then he has no legal right to that child until the court orders it to him. It is one of the biggest misconceptions single men have. They often think just having their name on the birth certificate protects them, but that is not the case.
Whether you need visitation because it’s being denied or whether you need to establish legal custody so that you can have the right to help make decisions surrounding your child, one of our caring lawyers in Hanover can assist you in protecting your rights as a father.
How to Establish Paternity in Hanover
If you were married to your child’s mother when the child was born, you are considered the child’s legal father under the law, even if you are not the actual biological father of the child. If you were not married, you may only exercise your legal rights as a father if you have been deemed the child’s legal father through a custody action. When both parents agree on the identity of their child’s father, both parties may sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity and file it with the Massachusetts Registry of Vital Records and Statistics. If this is not signed, a father would need to first file a complaint to establish paternity before he can have visits awarded to him.
When a paternity claim is challenged, either the father or mother can file a paternity complaint. During a paternity proceeding, a judge may order DNA testing and, depending on the results, issue a judgment of paternity pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws 209C §8 declaring the party in question as the child’s legal and biological father.
One of our skilled attorneys in Hanover can help a father assert his rights by filing a paternity claim. Once paternity is verified, a father’s name may be added to the child’s birth certificate. Then, the father would have the right to seek legal custody and a set parenting schedule. Upon verification, the custodial parent would also have the right to receive child support from the other parent. Additionally, upon verifying paternity, a child can be covered on their father’s health insurance plan and named as a beneficiary of their Social Security and life insurance benefits.
Termination of a Fathers’ Rights in Hanover
Stripping a parent of their rights is usually a last resort but can be done in certain situations to protect a child. The state may file a termination of parental rights action if your child is in an unsafe living environment, abused, neglected, or abandoned, or if one of the parents is convicted of a violent felony.
If you are the child’s legal father, you have the right to receive notice of any termination proceeding, object to the termination, and participate in any trial of the case. If you receive a notice for termination of your parental rights, a local attorney can explain the process and, if you object, represent you in court.
How a Hanover Fathers’ Rights Attorney Can Help
As a father, establishing and protecting your parental rights can be challenging. It is so important to know that if you are not married to the mother, you DO NOT automatically have a legal say over your child until the court issues an order allowing the same. This can be much easier to obtain while you and the mother are on good terms rather than after a break up. As soon as you find out that your girlfriend is pregnant, you may want to heavily consider speaking to an attorney to get everything lined up to seek legal custody when the child is born.
If you face a legal dispute over paternity, custody, child support, or the termination of your parental rights, a Hanover fathers’ rights lawyer can be an invaluable resource. The attorneys at O’Connor Family Law can fully explain your rights and work to preserve your relationship with your child.