Paternity Rights & Custody

Parents have every right to seek custody rights and visitation with their children. It does not matter whether the parents were married or not at any time. The court will make the determination of custody and visitation based on the best interests of the child. Unless one of the parents can prove otherwise, the court will assume that both parents being involved in a child's life is in the best interest of the child. Parts of the court making that decision involve the current relationship between the child and their parents, any history of child abuse, drug and alcohol usage and others.

Father's must legally establish paternity of the child. This is done via DNA testing, being on the birth certificate, signing an acknowledgment of paternity, or the mother not denying parentage to the court. Once paternity is established, then fathers may pursue custodial rights and visitation. This process can be done simultaneously.

The best option on determining custody and visitation is the parents coming to an agreement. Negotiating is a huge part of custody cases. Negotiating gives the co-parents the opportunity to figure out what is best for their child on their own terms and without a judge telling them.

Co-Parents will have to address both legal and physical custody of the child. The final parenting plan will address both forms of custody and will dictate whether both parents have a decision-making right in the child's everyday life as it pertains to education, health care, religion etc. and who's address will be used as the child's address for issues such as mail and education. The goal is to make a plan that will keep parents from having to modify their plan, but a modification of your parenting plan is available as long as there is a significant change from the date of the previous plan. The best thing co-parents can do is to negotiate their own plan that allows for steady communication between the parties to help nurture the relationship of both parents with the children.