Fairfax Fathers’ Rights Lawyer

In general, a child benefits from having both parents care for them. Unfortunately, fathers were not always treated fairly in custody or visitation cases. Thankfully, the law has evolved to now view both mothers and fathers equally when determining appropriate arrangements for custody and visitation.

If you are going through a divorce and are concerned about maintaining your relationship with your child, a Fairfax fathers’ rights lawyer could offer valuable guidance. An experienced family law attorney could represent your interests and help you create a compelling legal strategy.

Do Fathers Have Equal Parenting Rights?

Under Virginia Code §20-124.2(b), both parents have equal custody rights. A judge cannot grant custody or visitation to one parent over the other based on gender.

However, state law does differentiate between biological fathers and legal fathers. An unmarried father must legally establish his paternity before seeking court-ordered time with his child. If a father has any further questions about their rights and obligations under state law, a knowledgeable attorney in Fairfax could address concerns.

The Process of Establishing Paternity

Being a child’s biological father does not automatically make someone a legal guardian. There are several ways for a local father to legalize his relationship with his child.

Presumption of Paternity

If a man was married to a child’s mother at least ten months before the child’s birth, he is automatically deemed the child’s legal father. Legal fatherhood gives the man the right to custody or visitation and obligates him to support his child financially.

Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity

If both parents agree they are a child’s birth guardians, they can sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity, which must be signed under oath. However, the man must be given verbal and written notification of the consequences of establishing him as the child’s father, including the duty to pay child support if the circumstances warrant it.

Genetic Testing

If the mother or the alleged father disputes paternity, a skilled attorney in Fairfax could fight for the father’s right to a DNA test. Additionally, a judge must order genetic testing if both parties do not voluntarily submit to the test. If the test reveals a 98 percent chance or greater that the man is the child’s biological father, the process of establishing paternity ends.

Establishing Paternity Through Adoption

Finally, a father can formally adopt a child to assume full parental rights. However, it is important to remember that, before a child can be adopted, both biological parents must consent.

A legal determination of paternity not only solidifies the father-child relationship, but it allows the child to inherit assets, obtain health insurance through the adoptive parent, and obtain certain government benefits like social security from the father. Paternity rights also entitle a child to learn about the family’s social background or medical history. A seasoned Fairfax lawyer familiar with paternity proceedings could guide a father through this legal process.

Protecting Rights to Custody or Parenting Time

The elimination of the maternal preference has enabled more fathers to seek primary or shared custody of their children. Because a parent’s gender is no longer relevant, a judge must base custody decisions solely on a child’s best interests. According to Virginia Code §20-124.3, the judge should consider several factors, including, but not limited to:

  • The age and mental health of each parent and child
  • The child’s relationship with each parent
  • The child’s needs, including maintaining relationships with siblings and extended family
  • Each parent’s ability and willingness to support the other parent’s relationship with the child
  • The child’s preference if, the court determines the child is of reasonable age and intelligent to express a preference
  • Any history of family violence

An experienced attorney in Fairfax could help a father understand how these factors might influence his rights in a custody or visitation case.

Request a Consultation with a Fairfax Fathers’ Rights Attorney Today

If you want to work towards a more fulfilling relationship with your child, a Fairfax fathers’ rights lawyer could assist you. A seasoned attorney knows how critical it is for you to be a part of your child’s life and can work tirelessly to provide you that opportunity. Reach out today to schedule a consultation and learn more about your rights.