Fathers have always been pivotal in the development of their Children. And in the last decade or two, our social expectations have increased in the participation that Fathers have in their children’s lives. In fact, equal parenting has become a starting point in most family law cases in Arizona. Father’s rights are held as equal to Mother’s rights regarding parenting and care of the children. Recent studies show that children who have involved fathers in their lives are more likely to do well in school, have fewer behavioral problems, and be happier and healthier.
Divorced or never-married fathers may face a number of challenges in asserting their rights, especially in situations where there are disagreements with the child’s mother or other factors that complicate the co-parenting dynamic. At McMurdie Law & Mediation, we greatly appreciate helping unmarried Fathers establish their parenting involvement and their rights to parenting their children.
One of the most common issues that fathers face is establishing paternity. Fathers have the right to request paternity testing in order to determine if they are the biological father of the children reputed to be theirs. Once known, the biological father has a right to be involved in the decision surrounding raising their children and to have a parenting plan in which they are an equal part if that is what they desire. Unmarried fathers should establish paternity by obtaining a court order granting them as the legal father that will then allow them to further establish legal decision-making authority and parenting time and financial issues such as child support, child tax credits, transfer of the children, and vacations.
Legal Decision-making & Parenting Time
In order to establish legal decision-making authority or parenting time in Arizona you first have to prove you are the biological father, and by agreement of the Mother. In the past, as stated above, our courts often favored mothers in custody disputes, but today, fathers are imbued with equal parenting rights. Fathers may seek full or partial legal decision-making authority, or they may seek parenting time, depending on the circumstances.
When a child is born to a married couple in Arizona, it is presumed that the husband is both the biological and legal father of the child. So, when a couple divorces, the court will decide on custody and support arrangements to provide for the child’s needs and to protect both parents’ rights to make decisions for their children and also have parenting time with them and other related rights. That presumption can be overcome if it learned that in fact the biological Father is discovered to be another person. McMurdie Law & Mediation loves to assist when parentage becomes murky during a legal situation when parenting is being established by a court.
When unmarried couples have children, they often don’t realize that they need to establish their rights by going through the court system. This can lead to problems later on when it comes time to make important decisions about the child. It is highly advisable, that if you are not going to marry, that you protect your parenting rights by establishing paternity by obtaining a court order. Establishing paternity is a required first step before any child support or custody orders can be enforced or established.
A parenting plan is a detailed document that sets out how a child will be cared for and raised by two parents. It includes decision-making responsibilities, timesharing schedules and other important matters such as education, health care and extracurricular activities, holidays and vacations. A parenting plan is required if there is any dispute over custody or visitation rights between parents. In this context, “custody” refers to the right to make major life decisions on behalf of the child, and “visitation” refers to the right to spend time with the child.
A court-approved parenting plan is important for fathers to protect their parental rights. Without such a plan in place, there may arise disagreements that cause poor co-parenting or one parent to control more of the time and alienate the other parent.
Fathers may also face challenges in modifying existing custody or visitation agreements. If there is a change in circumstances, such as a change in work schedule or a move to a new location, fathers may need to modify the existing agreement to better suit their needs and the needs of their children. McMurdie Law & Mediation loves to assist Fathers in establishing their parenting time plan and their financial obligations for their children.
Building a Healthy Co-Parenting Relationship
Besides legal rights, it’s important to foster and grow effective co-parenting relationship. Communication, cooperation, and flexibility are key to creating a supportive environment for your child. By working together with the other parent, you can establish consistent routines, keep communication open, and make decisions that put your child’s well-being first.
In all of these situations, fathers should seek the assistance of an experienced family law attorney who can help them navigate the legal system and assert their rights. A skilled family law attorney can help fathers establish paternity, obtain custody or parenting time, financial obligations and modify existing agreements as needed.
At McMurdie Law & Mediation, we understand the importance of fathers’ rights and are committed to helping fathers assert their rights and protect their relationships with their children. We have extensive experience in family law matters and can provide the guidance and support fathers need to achieve their goals.
If you are a father facing challenges in asserting your rights, contact McMurdie Law & Mediation at 480-777-5500 to schedule a consultation. We serve clients in the east valley and all over Arizona and are dedicated to helping fathers protect their relationships with their children.