Mothers are automatically bestowed with rights to their children, and the law presumes that they are the custodial parent until otherwise ordered. This can leave unmarried fathers feeling cut out of their children’s lives and cheated out of the opportunity to build a meaningful relationship.
But if you’re in that situation, we encourage you not to feel disheartened to the point of giving up. After all, fathers play a significantly powerful role in their children’s lives.
The impact of an active father
An active and engaged father can positively impact nearly every aspect of his child’s life. Here are just some of the positive influences that are oftentimes seen when a father takes an active role in his child’s life:
- diminished likelihood of high-risk behaviors
- decreased risk of dropping out of school
- decrease in aggressive behaviors
- decreased risk of incarceration
- increased possibility of obtaining high-paying jobs
- increased ability to build and maintain healthy relationships
- higher IQ scores
- decreased risk of psychological problems
As you can see, your active presence in your child’s life can have a profound effect on his or her development in both the short-term and the long-term. But oftentimes simply being present isn’t enough. To see maximum benefit, you’ll need to spend quality time with your child where you’re engaged with him or her and provide a sense of warmth and security.
Of course, that can be difficult to do when your child’s other parent blocks access to the child, which is why it’s important that you know how to obtain and protect your parental rights.
Securing your parental rights
If you’re ready to take on a more meaningful role in your child’s life, then you’ll want to start by establishing paternity. This can occur a number of ways, including through DNA testing or by signing a paternity affidavit. A paternity affidavit is the easier route, but signing it can be hard to accomplish if the other parent is unwilling to acknowledge you as a parent. In those situations, you’ll need to go to court and ask for an order for DNA testing.
Once paternity is established, then you can petition the court to secure visitation or even joint or sole physical custody. Just remember that you’re going to have to present evidence as to why your position is in the child’s best interests unless you can negotiate an arrangement that the other parent agrees with. This evidence can be wide-ranging and include documents and testimony that speak to your child’s desires, your child’s mental and emotional well-being, and your and the child’s other parent’s physical, menta, and financial conditions.
Do you need help navigating your case?
It can be confusing and complicated to maneuver through the legal process, especially when it involves something as sensitive as access to and time spent with your children. But that’s why experienced family law firms like ours are here to help. A competent attorney can help you understand and successfully navigate the process so that you can increase your chances of obtaining an outcome that is right for you and your child.
These matters can be hard-fought and stressful, but don’t let that deter you from taking action. After all, you can ease the feeling of uncertainty by appropriately preparing your case. An attorney might be able to help you in that regard.
So, if you’d like to learn more about what you can do to protect your parental rights, then now may be the perfect time to seek out the help that you need.