Matrimonial and Family Law Blog

Monday, October 14, 2019

Ten Things You Should Know About Fathers' Rights in Divorce

Both mothers and fathers play important roles in their children’s lives. In most cases, an ongoing, close relationship with both parents is beneficial for the child. Fathers have the same rights as mothers, even if they are divorced or never married the mother. However, some fathers are required to hire a New York child custody lawyer to help them protect their parental rights.

Ten Facts About Father’s Rights in New York

1.  Fathers can petition for custody of their child with a divorce proceeding or as a stand-alone action. Neither parent receives preferential treatment during a custody case. The court does not automatically favor one parent over the other.

2.  Without a court order determining custody, both parents have an equal right to keep the child with him or her. However, if the parents do not agree on where the child should live, the court will decide custody based on the child’s best interest.

3.  New York cannot decide custody matters unless the court has jurisdiction over the matter. For the court to have jurisdiction, the child may have lived in New York for the six months before the custody action is filed or must have been born in New York, if the child is under six months old. There are a few very limited exceptions for extenuating circumstances.

4.  A child’s preference for which parent he or she desires to live with can be considered by the court. However, the court is not required to give the child’s preference weight based on a certain age. The court continues to make custody decisions based on the child’s best interest,

5.  A father can petition to the court to change custody if a significant change of circumstances occurs that can impact the child’s best interest. For example, a mother moves in with another person who has been arrested for and convicted of domestic violence. The court might consider this factor as a substantial change to revisit custody.

6.  Fathers do not have automatic custody or visitation rights. If the parents were not married at the time the child was born, or they signed an Acknowledgment of Paternity, the father would need to file a petition requesting that the court order paternity tests to determine if the father has legal standing to file a custody and visitation case.

7.  Frequent visitation is encouraged so that parents have a meaningful and ongoing relationship with their child, including fathers.

8.  Mothers cannot refuse to allow court-ordered visitation with the child, even though a father may be behind on his child support payments.

9.  If the father has a court order granting him custody of the child, the mother cannot take the child or refuse to return the child after visitation. A mother who does this can be charged with kidnapping and other charges.

10.  Fathers who have shared legal custody of their child are entitled to participate in legal decisions regarding their child. Examples of areas that a father has a voice regarding his child include education, medical care, religious upbringing, and extracurricular activities. If a mother attempts to make unilateral decisions for the child that the father opposes, the father may have legal standing to petition the court for assistance.

Contact a New York Child Custody Attorney for More Information

If you are concerned about your child’s wellbeing, talk to a New York divorce attorney about your legal options. Contact Gassman Baiamonte Gruner, P.C. to speak with a New York child custody lawyer today. You may have legal standing to petition the court for relief such as granting you full legal custody or shared legal custody of your child.

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