As a father, it’s important to know what your rights are when it comes to your children. In the past, courts have generally sided with the mother on custody issues, but it’s now apparent that an involved father is just as important as a mother.
Here in Florida and across the United States, every father has certain rights:
- A father has the right to be involved in his child’s life.
- A father has the right to ask for custody of his child.
- A father has the right to ask for child support if he is given custody of his child.
- A father has the right to visit and spend quality time with his child even if he is not given custody.
- A father has the right to foster a meaningful and consistent relationship with his child.
Although you have these rights, you might find it challenging to enforce them. That’s why it’s crucial to find a lawyer who will help you assert your rights during a divorce, paternity suit, custody and visitation dispute, child support agreement, or any other issue where your parental rights are being ignored or violated.
What kind of lawyer, though, should you be looking for?
Father’s Rights Lawyers vs. Family Lawyers
When you need a lawyer regarding family issues – specifically where it concerns marriage or children – you’ll most likely turn to a highly qualified Florida family lawyer. However, there are some lawyers who specialize in helping men protect their rights in domestic matters.
As far back as the 19th century, many people believed in the tender years doctrine. This doctrine said that during a child’s “tender years” – typically 13 years or younger – custody should be awarded to the child’s mother. Because not only were mothers better at caring for young children, they were also supposedly better nurturers.
Extensive research has since disproven this theory, and most states – including Florida – have eliminated the doctrine from their decision-making in custody or time-sharing hearings.
In fact, when a couple divorces in our state, the Florida statutes explicitly state that:
“The court shall order that the parental responsibility for a minor child be shared by both parents unless the court finds that shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child.”
Knowing that the Florida courts value shared parental responsibility should alleviate a father’s worries, but there are a number of issues that could potentially arrive during divorce proceedings – especially if the divorce is not amicable – that could jeopardize the time you deserve with your child.
For this reason, finding a lawyer who has experience with your specific issue is integral to the outcome of your case. That being said, there is little difference between a father’s rights lawyer and a family lawyer except that a father’s rights lawyer might focus solely on father’s rights, therefore working only with men. A knowledgeable family lawyer can help you with your case regardless of your gender.
When it comes to hiring a lawyer, the most important thing a father can do is to do his research and ask the right questions to ensure his lawyer is experienced, knowledgeable, and honest about his case and his chances at being successful.
What Can a Florida Family Lawyer Do for Fathers?
There are a number of domestic issues a family lawyer can help a father with, including:
Time-sharing and child support. As mentioned above, the Florida courts presume the parents of a child will share parental responsibility. However, there are certain factors that might favor either the mother or the father as the custodial parent. A skilled family lawyer will be able to negotiate an arrangement that everyone, including the courts, can agree upon.
Paternity. If you want to claim your paternal rights as a father, you will need to establish your paternity. A Florida family lawyer can help you establish paternity as soon as possible so you can protect your rights and your relationship with your child.
Termination of parental rights. If you find yourself subject to an involuntary termination or if you want to terminate your parental rights or the rights of the other parent, a Florida family lawyer will be able to navigate you through the process and be an advocate for your rights.
Additionally, a family lawyer can help you with adoption, domestic violence, and really any issue that might arise if it concerns children or marriage. If you want to protect your rights as a father, reach out to an experienced Florida family lawyer today.