A fathers’ rights attorney values the irreplaceable bond between a father and his children. Today, most fathers are active, engaged, and loving parents. However, during a divorce or breakup, your relationship might be at risk. At James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates we will fight on your behalf — ensuring that your children benefit from your love, guidance, and time.
What Are Fathers’ Rights?
Sometimes, you might feel like Maryland courts favor mothers over fathers during a family law dispute. While subtle bias can impact a judge’s decision, the law should not discriminate against a parent based on his or her gender. A father has the right to:
- Legal custody: the right to participate in important life decisions concerning your child, including medical, religious, and academic issues;
- Physical custody and visitation: the right to spend time with your child;
- Child support: if you have sole or primary physical custody of your child;
- Information about your child’s health, education, and welfare: federal and state laws protect your right to important information about your child.
During a relationship, these rights are rarely questioned. However, during and after a break-up, fathers frequently have to fight for their parental rights. In these situations, a fathers’ rights attorney can help you protect you and your child’s interests.
Father’s Rights & Establishing Paternity
If you and your child’s mother were married at the time of his or her birth, you are the presumed father. This gives you full parental rights. However, when you are unmarried, things are more complicated. In order to receive parental rights, you must establish paternity. You can prove your paternity in two ways:
- File a completed Affidavit of Parentage with the state;
- File a paternity action and undergo a DNA test.
You should never sign an Affidavit of Parentage unless you’re certain you are the father. Once you establish paternity, you have certain parental obligations — including a duty to financially support your child. If you have questions about paternity, contact James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates for more information.
Child Custody and Visitation
As discussed above, there are two types of custody: legal and physical. Once you establish paternity, you have the right to both spend time with your child and guide decisions concerning his or her welfare. However, if you are your ex cannot agree on custody and visitation issues, you should file a child custody petition with the circuit court.
Before you go to court, you and your fathers’ rights attorney might try to negotiate a child custody agreement with your ex. If you can reach an agreement on custody and visitation, you can present your agreement to the court for approval. However, if your negotiations are unsuccessful, a judge will award custody based on the best interests of your child.
If you have concerns about your ex’s ability to care for your child, make sure you discuss these issues (and any supporting evidence) with your fathers’ rights attorney. Your lawyer will help you build your case for sole or joint custody. A lawyer can also help you modify an existing child custody or visitation order if your circumstances change.
As a parent, you have a legal duty to support your child. When a parent has physical custody of a child, the other parent must pay child support — regardless of your gender. In Maryland, there are child support guidelines that apply in most cases. The state guidelines consider a series of factors involving you and your ex’s income and your child’s needs. If your circumstances change due to a job loss, disability, or other factors, you can also ask the court to modify your child support order. Contact James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates for more information.
Fathers’ Rights and Domestic Violence
At James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates, we understand how frustrating breakups, custody disputes, and child support issues can be. No one is perfect. However, it’s in your best interests to remain civil during a family law dispute. Domestic violence can negatively impact your right to custody and visitation. And, you might face serious criminal charges. If you were involved in a domestic violence incident, contact us immediately. We can help you defend yourself against criminal charges, protect your fathers’ rights, and file any necessary protective orders on your behalf.
Protect Your Interests with a Fathers’ Rights Attorney
While Maryland’s family laws are gender-neutral, some judges still subtle biases against fathers during a family law dispute. Without skilled representation, you might lose time with your children and pay excessive child support. Thankfully, a fathers’ rights attorney at James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates can help you navigate the family law system and protect your rights.
We help fathers with issues concerning:
- Child custody and visitation orders,
- Child and spousal support payments,
- Modification or termination of custody and child support orders,
- Paternity matters,
- Protective orders and restraining orders, and
- Divorce and divorce settlement agreements.
Discuss Your Situation With a Maryland Fathers’ Rights Attorney
When you retain James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates, you’ll have a fathers’ rights attorney that knows your children are worth fighting for. We apply over two decades of trial-tested litigation techniques to benefit our clients and their children. Contact us for a confidential and free evaluation today.