Table of Contents:
- Fathers' Rights in New Mexico
- Father's Rights in Colorado
- Father's Rights in Alabama
- Fathers Rights in Connecticut
- A Father's Rights in Missouri
- Father's Rights in New Jersey
- Father's Rights in Indiana
Paternity is automatically established if the parents were married when the child was born or the child was born no more than 300 days after a divorce. Otherwise, a father must consent to his name being placed on the child's birth certificate or sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity and file it with New Mexico's Vital Statistics Bureau in the Department of Health.
Once paternity is established or if the man is presumed to be the child's natural father, he may petition a court for custody. The court will determine a custody arrangement based on the best interests of the child. Such factors include the child's preference, any mental or physical health problems of the parents or the child, the stability of the child's current environments, such as social, education and home, the child's relationship with each parent, the parents' ability to work together and the distance between the parents' homes.
If a father is not granted custody, he can still exercise his visitation rights. The visitation schedule should be created in consideration of the parent's work schedule and the child's school and extracurricular activity schedules. If the parents cannot agree, the court will issue a visitation order.
Colorado statutory provisions governing residential custody are gender neutral. Because of gender neutrality, a father possesses an equal right with the mother to seek residential custody of a child. In divorce, legal separation and paternity cases a father is able to petition the court to be designated as the primary residential custodian of a child. If granted residential custody, the child lives primarily with the father.
The laws of the state of Colorado express a preference for the parents of a minor child to share legal custody. Legal custody represents the ability of a parent to make major decisions on behalf of the child. A father in Colorado possesses the same rights as a woman to participate in legal custody with a child. Only if a child's health, safety and welfare would be jeopardized in some manner does a parent, including a father, lose the ability to join in joint legal custody of a child.
In situations where the mother is designated to provide the primary residence for a child the father is vested with the right to parenting time. Colorado law utilizes the concept of parenting time as opposed to visitation in regard to the time the non-custodial parent spends with a child. The theory is that a father (or other non-custodial parent) maintains the right to be more than a visitor in the life of his child. Colorado law and court practice establishes minimum requirements in regard to a parenting time schedule.
Colorado statutes provide a father the right to obtain legal representation in family law cases. The Colorado Bar Association maintains a directory of attorneys in different practice areas, including family law. (See Resources).
Under Code of Alabama, Section 30-3-2, when a husband and wife mutually agree to separate, either parent can petition the court to adjudicate custody. The carefulness, aptitude and suitability of the parents will be taken into consideration, as will the age and sex of the child. Witnesses may testify and be examined in court during this process. Either sole or joint custody will be awarded
Joint custody means that both the mother and father have been found to act in the best interest of the child, and they will both have constant and continuous contact with the child. The father, same as the mother, has the right to make important decisions in the child's life. However, joint custody does not guarantee equal physical custody.
If only one parent is found to have the best interest of the child at heart, that parent will have sole custody, meaning only that parent can make decisions on behalf of the child.
Fathers have the same rights as mothers when it comes to paying and receiving child support. To formulate the amount of child support, Alabama uses an income share model. This model takes into account the combined gross income of both the mother and the father; each parent's gross earning as a percentage of their combined gross income; a pre-existing agreement for child support or alimony; the number of minor children; the cost of childcare while the parent works; and the price for the child's health insurance and which parents pays that cost. Child support can be recalculated at any time upon the father or the mother's request.
The courts have a lot of freedom when determining visitation rights for the noncustodial parent. The visitation schedule can be very specific as to times and dates or general as to reasonable times and places. The factors that come into consideration when assigning visitation include the health, education and welfare of the child. Even if both parents agree to no visitation, the court still has the power to provide those rights to the noncustodial parent.
Right to Physical Custody
During custody proceedings, fathers in Connecticut have the right to obtain custody of their children with no bias due to gender. Custody can be attained in several formats. A father may have joint custody with the mother and have only visitation rights to his children, such as during the weekends or summers. A father may also receive primary physical custody of the children. According to Connecticut law, the courts will try to make sure the child has frequent contact with both parents. As long as the father has custody rights, he will have the right to access his child's medical and educational records.
Rights to Decide
During custody proceedings, the courts will grant either the mother, the father, or both parents the right to make decisions concerning the child. In Connecticut, a father has the right to be heard in court. Both parents have the right to receive mediation to help resolve any issues the couple may have concerning their child. The courts will listen to any suggestions the mediator has. The rights to decide what type of medical care the child will receive will be addressed, as well as decisions concerning the child's education. The courts will also address the religious doctrine a child will receive if it is of interest to the parents.
Different situations will call for different judgments. In Connecticut, all judgments will be made in the best interest of the children. Rights can be revoked. According to state law, a father may loose his rights if he has broken certain laws. If a father has committed violent crimes or domestic violence, he may lose his rights. If a father has been convicted of sex crimes, he will not have rights to his child. In the cases concerning a violent past, the father may have counseling and appeal the court's decision. The court will only readdress a custody case if the father presents new evidence.
A father seeking custody of his child can apply for legal custody or physical custody. Legal custody permits fathers to make important decisions regarding the welfare of their child. For example, a father granted legal custody can participate in deciding where his child will attend school, and can help decide matters of discipline and after-school activities. Conversely, physical custody allows fathers to have physical possession of their child, meaning the child resides with him. A father who has his child the majority of the time has the right to seek sole custody. Additionally, based on section 475.352 of the Missouri Revised Statutes, a father cannot be denied any form of custody because of his age, financial status, or sex of the child.
Child Support and Paternity
In Missouri, a custodial parent can seek child support through filing a petition for support or a divorce. In instances in which a father and mother have a child out of wedlock, a "Petition for Declaration of Paternity" can be filed. A father must file a paternity case, which includes receiving a paternity test, to get custody or visitation of his child. Fathers who have no interest in seeking visitation or custodial rights should still file a paternity case. This is because under Missouri law, mothers can file a lawsuit for child support and paternity and be awarded up to five years of retroactive child support. Paternity tests are ordered by the court under the Petition for Declaration of Paternity.
Under Missouri law, visitation and child support are considered separate and distinct. As such, fathers may be ordered to pay child support and not receive visitation. Visitation rights establish the terms by which a father can spend time with his child. These terms specify the days of the week, times, and even places that a father can be with his child. Section 452.400 of the Missouri Revised Statutes states that a "parent not granted custody of the child is entitled to reasonable visitation rights unless the court finds, after a hearing, that visitation would endanger the child's physical health or impair his or her emotional development. Also, under these statutes, fathers can file a motion for contempt if their court-ordered visitation rights are restricted or impeded.
Right to Visitation
Fathers in New Jersey have the right to visit their children, according to the states code. It is seen as the best interest of the child to have continuing contact with both parents. Even if the mother has primary custody of the child and retains most decision-making rights, the father is still allowed visitations. The visitations can be revoked if the father has committed violent crimes or sexual assault. If he has committed these crimes, he may not be allowed to exercise his visitation rights. He may appeal the decision, but there will be at least a ten day waiting period for the courts to deliberate.
Right to Custody
Custody orders may seem confusing, but are rather simple. In New Jersey a father has the right to retain legal custody or physical custody, or even both. If the father retains physical custody, his child will live with him. If he has legal custody, he may only have visitations and holidays with his children, and is still included in the decisions that will effect his children. A father may petition the courts to order a custody agreement. If the parents were married, custody orders will be made at the time of divorce. All custody orders must be followed. The courts will determine custody based on the prior conduct of the parents as well as where each parent resides and the opportunities they can provide. Courts in New Jersey will also consider the opinion of any child who is at least 10 years of age.
Right to Decide and Support
A father has the right to make decisions concerning his children. Basic rights are protected by the 14th amendment and have been carried down through common law. Fathers in New Jersey have the right and responsibility to support their children and prepare them for the future. Fathers have the right to decide how their children will be educated. Fathers have the right to help decide which religion their children will be taught. The type of medical care children will receive can be decided by a father as well. These rights can not be infringed upon without evidence that the father's decisions has or may cause the child harm in New Jersey, according to the New Jersey Custody and Visitation Rights. Often times, the courts will grant or deny these rights when they make custody orders.
Recognition as Father
Under Indiana law, any child that is conceived during the course of a marriage between a man and a woman is presumed to be the biological child of the husband. The name of the husband will appear on the birth certificate as father unless compelling evidence, such as a negative DNA or blood test, shows otherwise. For children born outside of wedlock, the prospective father has the right to have his paternity legally established through the process of DNA testing in order to have his name represented as father on the birth certificate of the child. Paternity may also be legally recognized through a paternity affidavit (a legal document acknoledging paternity) as long as it is filed with the Indiana Department of Health within 72 hours of the child's birth. Under Indiana law, paternity affidavits must be signed by both the mother and the father in order to be legally recognized.
Custody and Visitation
The state of Indiana strongly favors the unification of the family. Therefore, the state does whatever possible to ensure that the child is afforded equal access to both parents unless it can be shown that it is not in the best interest of the child. Therefore, in cases of divorce or whenever paternity has been established, fathers have the right to petition the court for joint custody, sometimes known as shared parenting. In joint custody situations, both parents share equal time with the child and are both entitled to make legal, educational and medical decisions on behalf of the child. This rule applies to fathers of both naturally conceived and legally adopted children. If the court designates that shared parenting is not possible or feasible, the father has the rights to liberal visitation with the child or children involved.
Children have the right to be supported by both parents to ensure that they are safe, fed and adequately housed. Child support in the state of Indiana is calculated by a formula that includes several factors. These factors include the cost of day care and health insurance and who pays for such factors, as well as the number of children subject to support and any child support paid to children from other relationships. Fathers in Indiana who are ordered to pay child support have the right to have the amount of support that they are required to pay to be be calculated by the court in order to ensure that the amount is fair. Fathers also have the right to have the amount of the monthly child support order adjusted, if needed, because of a change in income relating to a job loss or change in salary and cannot be denied visitation because of a failure to pay. However, flagrant failure to pay court ordered child support is a crime and is punishable by fines as well as jail time.