Germantown Father’s Rights Lawyers Assisting Clients Facing Parental Rights Disputes
Not too long ago, courts assumed that mothers were the primary caretaker of a child while fathers were the primary breadwinners that spent most of their time working away from the family home and thus played a lesser role in the process of upbringing their child. Today, family courts in Maryland focus less on gender roles and more on what is best for the child, which means fathers and mothers are given equal rights and responsibilities. At Paré & Associates, LLC, we provide legal help for fathers facing parental rights disputes and help them regain the right to have a relationship with their children. Here are a few important aspects concerning father’s rights in Maryland.
What Are the Rights and Duties of a Father in Maryland?
Like many other states, Maryland now recognizes that fathers also play an important role in raising a child and gives both mothers and fathers equal rights and responsibilities. Some of the rights that Maryland fathers have include (but are not limited to) being involved in the process of making important decisions that may affect the well-being of their child; making medical decisions such as authorizing procedures and treatments; making decisions regarding where the child will attend school and the type of education (including religious and/or cultural education) the child will receive; the right to parenting time with the child and the right to be notified if the child is put up for adoption.
A father also has parental duties that he is expected to fulfill. Those may include providing for the child’s basic material needs (food, shelter, clothing, medical care, etc) and emotional needs (controlling, protecting, educating, and caring for the child). Fathers and mothers are also expected to provide financial coverage for the child’s needs, meaning that they are financially responsible for the child – usually until the child turns 18 (with a few exceptions).
Are Unmarried Fathers Entitled to Any Parental Rights in Maryland?
When a baby is born to a married couple, that couple is automatically assumed to be the parents of that child. However, when a child is born to an unmarried couple, only the mother is given the status of biological parent automatically. If no further action is taken by the father, the child may likely not have a legal father and the birth certificate may not include the father’s name.
In order to be considered the legal father of a child, an unmarried father needs to take a few extra steps before receiving any parental rights. Those steps typically include voluntarily establishing paternity (by signing a document called an affidavit of parentage) or establishing paternity through legal action and with the help of the court. For some, the process of establishing paternity may be more complex and require genetic testing and further investigation. It may be wise to seek the help of a father’s rights attorney to assist you with the process of establishing paternity.
What Should I Do if I Am Not Being Allowed to See My Child?
Generally speaking, legal fathers are given the right to spend time and build a relationship with their children (with very few exceptions). In contrast, unmarried fathers may not exercise parental rights to visitation before paternity is established unless they have been granted visitation through a court order.
If you are being barred from visiting your child and you are the legal father, there are a few different steps you may take depending on your specific situation. You may initiate legal action to petition the court for child custody and visitation, which may allow you to have a predetermined parenting schedule with your child. If you already have a court-ordered parenting schedule and the child’s mother is refusing to comply with it, you may also initiate a complaint with the court. The court can then decide if the child’s mother is acting in contempt of court by not allowing you to visit with your child. There may be significant penalties for individuals found to be in contempt of court.
The above-mentioned exceptions for a mother to be legally able to prevent a father from exercising his parental rights to visitation is when doing so will endanger the child’s physical or emotional well-being. Courts may allow a mother to prevent the father from contacting the children in extreme situations involving domestic violence and abuse. However, every case is different, and if you believe your parental rights are not being respected, your first step should be to speak with an attorney and discuss your case.
How Can a Father’s Rights Attorney Help Me?
Parental rights issues can be complex, and the path to resolving them may not always be cut and dry. Whether you are a father seeking to establish legal paternity, a legal father who is not being allowed to have contact with your child, or even a man who has been wrongly named as the father of a child, speaking to an attorney should be your first step.
As explained above, the state of Maryland is not a “mother” state and gives preference to attributing equal rights to both parents. Fathers have both rights and responsibilities, but sometimes a dispute may place excessive emphasis on a father’s responsibilities – such as when a legal suit from a mother seeking child support results in a child support amount that threatens the financial integrity of the father. At Paré & Associates, LLC, we help fathers seek fair, equal treatment in court in order to build their relationship with their children without compromising their parental rights and personal finances. If you need help exercising your rights as a father or have questions concerning parental rights, reach out to our Germantown office to see how we can help. Call Paré & Associates, LLC today at (301) 515-1190 to schedule a free consultation.