One very common question that we get from clients here at the firm is, "What are my rights as a father?" Over the years the answer to this question has become much clearer and can stand in court. In Missouri today, fathers have the same rights as mothers do when it comes to child custody, visitation or child support. If parents decide to file for legal separation, divorce or an annulment, then each parent has a right to spend quality time with their children and should stay actively involved in the child's life. However, men feel that they face additional obstacles when it comes to gaining custody or visitation rights. The court is not supposed to show any preferential treatment to either the mother or the father, because gender no longer has a major role in the decision making process. If you are a father looking to fight for your rights, speak with a Kansas City family lawyer from The Reynolds Law Firm, LLC today for the help.
If an individual is unsure of whether or not they are a child's biological father, they have the right to seek out a paternity test. This process can help shed light on whether or not they have fathers' rights that they can enforce in court. However, if the paternity test shows that they are not the biological father, then they have no legal rights concerning the child, unless they are married to the mother.
If you father a child, but the mother is not allowing you to see the child, then you do have the right to sue for joint or sole child custody. The court will look to see what child custody arrangement is in the best interests of the child. If they do award one parent full custody, then typically the non-custodial parent is awarded visitation rights. The truth is, that as a biological father, you have a right to seek custody or visitation so you can be involved in your child's life.
As long as there are no red flags that tell the court that the child is unsafe in your care, the court will award fathers visitation rights. If you have a history of drug or alcohol abuse, a criminal history, or a violent streak in the home, then the court may be able to deny you visitation on account of child-endangerment. If you do not have visitation rights or you choose to forego them that does not get you out of paying your court ordered child support.
Fathers' rights are a main component in child support cases. The amount of support that a father must pay could vary depending on what state you live in, what the custody/visitation agreement is, how much money each parent makes and how many children you have. If you are the biological father, then you do have a responsibility to provide financially for your children. Mother's do have a right to have a paternity test done if the identity of the father is in question.
Major Life Decisions
If you have joint custody along with the mother, then you are both able to make major decisions regarding health, religion, education and extracurricular activities for the children. However, if you are a non-custodial parent with only visitation rights, then you may not be consulted in every major decision. The mother will need your permission though, if she want to move out of state with the children.
If you would like to discuss fathers' rights or enforce them in court, contact our firm today!