In terms of child custody, support, and paternity, many people still think fathers’ rights are inferior to those of a mother. The truth is that mothers often serve as the primary breadwinners and fathers as their children’s primary caregivers.
A compassionate Anderson fathers’ rights lawyer knows that you love your children just as much as their mother does. Our dedicated child custody attorney is prepared to fight to ensure your rights as a dad are protected and enforced.
Impact of Paternity on a Father’s Custody Rights in Anderson
When a child is born, the mother’s identity is immediately known. Unfortunately, the same cannot always be said for fathers. If the mother was married at the time of the birth, her husband is presumed to be the child’s legal father. However, unmarried fathers must take additional steps to establish paternity and secure their right to raise their children.
If a mother contests paternity, the father can petition the court to establish the biological connection between him and his child. As part of this legal action, a judge may order genetic testing for all parties involved.
State law no longer allows judges to automatically grant custody to mothers. However, until a father’s paternity is formally determined, he has no right to custody or court-ordered time with his child. Because a father and his child stand to lose a meaningful relationship with one another if paternity is not established, dads are well-advised to seek counsel from an experienced lawyer as soon as possible after their children are born.
Dads Have Equal Rights to Child Custody and Visitation
Once paternity is established, a father can petition the court for access to his child. If he is deemed capable of caring for his child, he could request shared physical custody and decision-making authority with the mother. Further, if the mother is unfit to care for their child, he has the right to ask the court to designate him as the primary custodian, in which case, the mother might owe him child support.
When deciding custody, family court judges must assess what parenting time arrangement will be in the child’s best interests. To determine a child’s best interests, a court must consider the factors outlined in the South Carolina Code of Laws §63-15-240, including but not limited to:
- The child’s development needs and temperament
- Each parent’s capacity and disposition to meet the child’s needs
- The child’s preference regarding custody and visitation, if they are deemed mature enough to give their opinion
- The child’s relationship with siblings, grandparents, and extended family
- Each parent’s ability to encourage a parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent
- Any effort by one parent to disparage the other to the child
A judge may also look unfavorably at a parent’s effort to involve the child in their divorce or custody dispute.
Judges generally prefer to keep both parents involved in their child’s life. As such, they will typically award joint custody unless the circumstances mandate a different arrangement. A knowledgeable attorney in Anderson is well-versed in the factors that go into determining the best interests of a child and how a father can prove his ability and willingness to play a meaningful role in his child’s life.
Hire an Anderson Attorney Experienced in Fathers’ Rights
More fathers are asserting their rights to custody and visitation with their children. Understandably so, as children benefit significantly from the wisdom, guidance, and support that a dad can provide.
Whether you are fighting for custody or are an unmarried parent seeking to establish paternity, an Anderson fathers’ rights lawyer can assist you. Contact our firm today to discuss how Attorney Greg Steele can help protect your rights in court and preserve your relationship with your child.