Establishing and enforcing parental rights in Georgia is often more difficult for fathers than mothers. While men must meet certain conditions to be considered a child’s legal father, mothers receive automatic physical and legal custody rights as soon as their child is born.
While men may not have automatic custody rights, fathers who have established paternity and legitimated their connection to their children are considered equal parents in the eyes of a court. If you are looking to protect or enforce your right as a father, a Marietta father’s rights lawyer might be able to help. By working with a well-versed attorney, you could understand your legal options and have an advocate to fight for your rights.
Under the Official Code of Georgia Annotated §19-9-3 states that judges may not give preference to one parent over the other based on gender. Furthermore, there should be no presumption that the mother receives more parenting time or parental rights than the father.
Simply put, a father’s parental rights in Georgia depend on whether he was married to his children’s mother. When the parents are married, any child born during that marriage is considered the legal child of the father—this is true even if the married father is not the biological father of his child.
If the parents of a child were never married, the father has no custody rights to his child until he establishes his paternity and legitimates his connection to his child. This holds true even if an unmarried man is listed on the child’s birth certificate as the father.
To prove that a father is the biological parent of a child, a paternity test is needed. However, it should be noted that proving paternity alone does not automatically grant a father the rights to custody or visitation with his children—however, this test could be used to order the father to pay child support to the mother.
Along with paternity, a father seeking custody or visitation rights must file a legitimation action in court. Unfortunately, the mother might have the right to object to the legitimation and, furthermore, a judge is not required to legitimate a child, even if the man is their biological father. Because of this, having the aid of a Marietta father’s rights lawyer may be essential to preserving a father’s involvement with their child.
A child’s legal father is on equal footing with their mother when it comes to deciding matters of custody. If there are no issues with neglect or abuse, a court will typically try to have both parents share custody rights. If the parents agree with how they should share custody, they could submit a proposed parenting plan to the judge for approval.
In cases where the parents cannot agree on the terms of a parenting plan, however—or where the judge does not believe that a plan is in the best interests of the children—the judge may decide custody based on the factors listed in O.C.G.A. §19-9-3. Some of these considerations include:
Georgia law considers it to be in a child’s best interest to maintain a healthy relationship with both parents—unless circumstances prohibit it. Fathers should not be afraid to ask for joint or shared custody and should work with a father’s rights attorney in Marietta to use these statutory factors when making their case for more time with their children.
While married fathers might be considered equal under the law, men often have a difficult time getting the full parenting rights that they deserve. If you are in the process of negotiating a divorce or pursuing a modification to custody, consider retaining a Marietta father’s rights lawyer about your options.
By working with a skilled attorney, you could have help in clarifying each step of the process and protecting your parenting rights. Call today for more information.