For many fathers it can feel as though the system is stacked against you when it comes to establishing and fighting for your paternal rights. Even so, there are a number of things you can do to improve your chances of coming away with most of what you're after. An existing judgment in the mother's favor can make this challenging, but with the right legal assistance, guidance, and personal motivation it's entirely possible.
Claiming and Establishing Paternity
Being officially recognized as the father of a child isn't quite as easy as it seems, especially if you've been absent from the child's life for any period of time. This becomes even more challenging if a third party has been named on the birth certificate, often due to presumption of paternity. You do have options though, and having a family law attorney on your side will simplify the process as you begin to file motions with the court to challenge that presumption.
Start by reaching out to the child support enforcement agency for the state where your child resides. Find out what documentation is necessary to establish your paternity and what next steps will result. Bear in mind, the longer you've been out of the picture the more of a struggle you'll have, so the sooner you can start taking action the better your chances of success.
Establishing a Paternal Relationship
Whether your absence was due to your choice or your ignorance of your child's existence, it's important to reach out and make your wishes known to the mother. This can not only help you determine how your efforts will be received, but will help you begin building a relationship with your child. Even a luke-warm reception is better than abject refusal, so make the most of even small victories at this stage.
Be prepared for the implications of establishing your paternity too, such as your obligation to provide support and spend time with your child. Remember, being a father is more than just a title to be worn as a sign of accomplishment, there are also certain expectations. Set realistic goals for visitation, and be prepared to pay delinquent financial support if an existing order established it. Some states may also impose retroactive support obligations, so check with your attorney or the state's child support enforcement agency to make sure you're prepared to address those too.
No matter the reason for your absence from your child's life there will be hurdles you'll need to overcome before you can fully establish your paternal rights. Doing so will be made easier with patience, a good lawyer, and a clear understanding of the implications for you, your child and the mother.
My husband has worked in the construction industry for nearly twenty years. Three years ago, he decided to open his own business performing renovation work. Having so much experience helped him land clients and showed him that he has to protect himself from the clients that aren't so easy to please. We started working with an attorney in the beginning to have all of the contracts drawn up and have called when things go badly with clients. This blog will show you what you need to do to protect yourself from legal liabilities when you work as a contractor in today's world.