For fathers in North Carolina, facing separation from their children following a divorce or a split can be deeply painful. However, it’s important for fathers to know that they have the right to seek child custody or visitation, regardless of whether they were married to their child’s mother. Academic studies have repeatedly shown that, absent evidence of abuse or other mistreatment, children benefit greatly from the involvement of both of their parents in their lives.
This is taken into account in family courts, which aim to make decisions in the best interests of the children. In fact, when fathers seek custody in court, they have a strong chance of success. For fathers who were married to the mother of their child, paternity is generally assumed. However, fathers who were not married may need to take steps to establish paternity. In many cases, both parents can simply sign off on an acknowledgment of paternity when the child is born or any time thereafter. When paternity is in dispute, a simple DNA test can lead to a court order recognizing paternity.
Legal paternity ensures a father’s right to seek custody or visitation with their child. Many parents can negotiate a parenting plan or agreement that makes everyone happy. This kind of plan includes visitation periods, primary custody, decision-making plans and how changes can be made to the agreement. When the parents can’t reach an agreement among themselves, however, they can petition the court for a visitation or custody order determined by a judge.
Whether parents have an amicable relationship or a sharp dispute over child custody, a family lawyer could provide helpful guidance. A family law attorney can help a father obtain a paternity order, negotiate a joint parenting plan or obtain a court order recognizing his right to time with his child.