The courts no longer presume that children need their mothers more than their fathers. The law recognizes that both parents play vital roles in a child’s life, and a skilled child custody attorney can help you assert your rights as a father.
A Rockville fathers’ rights lawyer can work with you to establish paternity, assert your visitation rights, or obtain custody of your children. Alternatively, if the mother of the child in question is denying you access and custody of your child, or trying to remove a child from the State of Maryland, a member of our legal team can help.
Establishing Paternity in Rockville
In some cases, men may ask the family court to establish paternity if the mother is contesting their parental rights. Husbands are presumed the legal father of any children born during their marriage. However, fathers to children born out of wedlock may sign an affidavit of paternity when the child is born, otherwise they may have to file a petition with the court to order a DNA test to establish paternity.
Fathers may negotiate shared legal and physical custody arrangements with a co-parent or go through litigation if the mother is denying access and being unreasonable. A father may be awarded primary physical custody (i.e. having his child living primarily in his home) and legal custody (i.e. decision-making authority). A local attorney can help a father establish his parental and custodial rights, calculate child support, and be an equal participant in his children’s lives.
Asserting Fathers’ Rights to Joint Legal & Physical Custody
Family courts assume that mothers and fathers have equal rights to raise and make decisions about their children. However, judges must ensure that physical and legal custodial arrangements serve the children’s best interest. Rockville courts often consider the following non-exclusive factors when determining a father’s right to custody and visitation:
- His capacity to parent and communicate effectively with a co-parent
- His relationship with the child
- The proximity of his home to the child’s school, family, friends, and the mother’s residence
- His employment status and ability to maintain a stable, consistent, loving, and safe household
- The child’s wishes only if he/she is of reasoned judgment and of a certain age
- Both parents’ willingness to share custody and work together
- Any history of domestic violence, abuse, or drug and alcohol addiction
- The age and health of the child
In most cases, both parties must consent to having the child testify in court or in chambers. In cases where fathers were not involved in the child’s early life, an attorney can request visitation to help them build parent-child relationships. Fathers may assert their rights to share or maintain physical custody of their children.
Rights of Rockville Fathers without Primary Physical Custody
In some cases, mothers maintain primary physical custody of shared children due to a child’s age or her ability to act as a full-time caretaker. However, there is still a great advantage to a father obtaining shared custody of his children, even if the physical access is not equal. An unequal division of physical custody does not mean fathers lose their legal decision-making rights (i.e. legal custody). A lawyer from our firm can help a father draft a proposed parenting plan reflecting his children’s best interest to submit to the court.
Maryland Code Family Law §9-104 states that non-custodial parents may access their child’s educational, medical, and dental records unless otherwise specified. Additionally, Md. Fam. Code §9-105 says that courts may award fathers attorneys’ fees, litigation costs, and adjust custody and visitation if his co-parent unlawfully interferes with his access to shared children. Legal professionals can help fathers in our area assert and protect their parental rights even when their co-parents retain primary physical custody.
Speak with a Dedicated Fathers’ Rights Attorney in Rockville
Whether you recently filed for divorce, found out you were a father, or wish to change or modify an existing custody and visitation arrangement, contact one of our compassionate family law attorneys. Schedule an appointment with a Rockville fathers’ rights lawyer to discuss the details of your case.