Fathers have the same custody rights that mothers have in child custody proceedings. Under New York law, a person’s gender does not impact his or her rights as a parent. Rather, that individual’s history of domestic violence and other criminal acts can impact their right to custody and visitation with their children.
What are My Rights as a Father?
As your child’s legal parent, you have the following rights:
- The right to seek custody or visitation with your child. This includes both physical custody, which means that your child would live with you, and legal custody, which is the right to make substantial decisions on your child’s behalf, such as decisions about his or her education and healthcare;
- The right to seek child support as a custodial parent; and
- The right to deny the adoption of your child. You can prevent your former partner from placing your child for adoption and as a legal parent, your status prevents your child from being adopted by your former partner’s new spouse.
Your right to seek custody or visitation with your child stems from your child’s right to have a relationship with both parents that is in his or her best interest.
What Rights do Fathers Have if Not Married?
If you were not married when your child was born, you can still be your child’s legal parent and exercise the rights that come with this position. To do this, you must sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity form or petition to the New York Family Court to obtain an Order of Filiation. An Acknowledgement of Paternity can be signed at the hospital when a child is born. To issue an Order of Filiation, the court must consider the evidence the applicant provides to prove that he is his child’s father. For example, he may submit the results of a DNA test.
Without declaring yourself to be your child’s legal father, you do not have the rights listed above. In this position, your child’s mother can dictate your relationship with the child and have another adult adopt him or her without your consent.
How to File for Visitation Rights
If you do not currently have a visitation order, work with a lawyer to petition to the court to create one. To do this, you must file your petition with the Family Court, which then reviews all the relevant factors of your case and how they mesh with your child’s best interest. These can include your physical and mental health, your relationship with your child, your child’s relationships with others in your household, and your history of cooperating with the court. If the court determines that a visitation arrangement is in your child’s best interest, it enters the custody order. With the order in place, your former partner cannot interfere with your visitation with the child for any reason, even if you fail to make your child support payments. If he or she does interfere with your visitation time, you can file a Petition for Enforcement of a Visitation Order.
Work with an Experienced New York Child Custody Lawyer
To learn more about child custody, schedule a consultation with child custody lawyer Theodore Alatsas Esq.