Fathers are crucial to the well-being of their children and their role in a child’s life does not end with divorce, separation or permanent custody determination. Fathers in New York have rights to their children and they have protection under New York State law. Even if the parents of a child are unmarried, fathers still have rights.
If you are facing loss of custody of your child or children or if you feel your rights to your children are being violated, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. An attorney understands New York Law which protects father’s rights, and they can navigate the courts to ensure the best possible outcome in the establishment or continuation of your parental rights as a father.
Custody and parental rights exist under the category of Family Law and Family Law follows the jurisdiction of the state. The United States has the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act which facilitates cooperation between all 50 states in regards to custody cases. So for example, if you have established paternity and custody in another state, New York state will comply with that order and other states will comply with paternity and custody ordered in New York.
The first thing necessary to establish the father’s rights is paternity. If both the mother and father are married, the husband is considered the father of the children, unless it is disputed. If the parents are not married there are two ways to determine paternity, the father signs an Acknowledgment of Paternity which acknowledges he is the father or the court is petitioned by either or both parties to determine paternity.
Once paternity is established, the judge examines all of the evidence and testimony to determine the best interests of the child. The judge then rules on custody which may result in a sole or joint arrangement. Many things are considered by the court when determining custody of children such as:
- The mental and physical well-being of each parent
- Depending on their age, the child’s wishes and preferences
- Each parent’s Work schedule
- The child’s school situation
- History of violence in the family
- Each parent’s ability to care for the child
The judge will decide if custody will be sole (one parent) or joint (both parents). They will also decide which parent has legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody is when a parent makes all the important decisions in the child’s life such as medical care, education arrangements, religious instruction, and other major life decisions. Judges often give both parents legal custody, however, each case is unique and will depend on the elements of each individual case.
Physical custody is when the child resides with one parent. It is also common for the court to issue joint physical custody orders. This doesn’t mean that the child’s time is split evenly between parents, it could mean that the child lives with one parent during a school week and the child lives with the other parent on the weekends.
Each custody case is individual and unique to the circumstances of the family petitioning the court, but fathers are more and more awarded joint custody and even full custody as more and more women are opting to prioritize their careers or wish to leave the home altogether.
Usually, custody and other issues involving parental rights follow a similar pattern though not in all cases. On the initial appearance in court, the judge will consider the history and present situation of the child, and determine if the child is safe to remain in their present situation. If so, another hearing will take place usually within a month or less.
At the second hearing, a judge will discover what the parents of the child want in regards to the child, if they did not do so at the first hearing. If the case is complicated, there may be more hearings or they may be scheduled closer together. The judge may request information from family members, teachers, doctors and other people who have contact with the child.
It is always best to work out a shared parenting plan with your child’s mother. In this plan you can come to a compromise on things such as: Visitation cycle, holiday schedule, vacation time, special family events, stipulations about parenting. Presenting the court with a mutually agreed upon parenting plan not only shows the court that you have your child’s best interests at heart, it minimizes state interference as much as possible by allowing parents to compromise with each other for their child’s sake. This is not always possible, but always advised.
It must be understood that the court is working for the best interest’s of the child and not for one parent or the other. There are cases where joint-custody is not an option and the judge will determine what the best caretaker would be for the child and rule accordingly. Both mothers and fathers are treated equally under the law regarding a child’s best interest. If a father has been awarded sole legal and physical custody, he has the same rights as a woman to request child support.
Mothers have traditionally been considered the best caregiver and the most important relationship for nurturing children, however, this is not always the case. As long as a father is not violent, abusive, involved in criminal activity or otherwise a danger to their child, fathers have the right to see their children, make decisions in the interest of their children, have visitation rights and have recourse within the law if their child’s other parent does not abide by the ruling of the court in their case.
If you are a father who is facing a child custody case, a child support case or a paternity petition in the State of New York, you need a New York father’s rights attorney who can advise you of all your legal rights and fight for you and your child’s interests.
Call the Spodek Law Group today for a free consultation on your case. We are one of New York’s oldest law firms with 50 years of experience and we have multiple offices in NYC and Long Island to serve you. To us, you are family, and we will fight in your corner for your parental rights.