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Men’s Rights When it Comes to Paternity Disputes

Men have equal rights during the divorce process, but in order to properly protect those rights, men must first understand what rights are theirs to claim.

In cases involving children, men may only have access to certain rights or outcomes if they are able to demonstrate paternity. However, not all conflicts are resolved seamlessly, and a father’s paternity may be called into question during the process.

Here is what every man needs to know about men’s rights during paternity disputes, including the legal options available, methods of demonstrating paternity, and what to do if the other spouse is not cooperating with the process.

Legal Framework

Men have numerous rights enshrined in the laws and regulations of not only the United States as a whole but also the individual state in which they live. Some of the most common rights that fathers in Maryland may claim include:

  • The right to object to putting a child up for adoption
  • The right to petition for custody of a child
  • The right to take paternity leave when a child is born (or adopted)
  • The right to pursue visitation and parenting time with a child
  • The right to contest interference in custody or visitation

These are just a few of the many legal footholds that men can utilize to ensure they are treated fairly during court proceedings and decisions on a broad scale.

However, one area that is less commonly discussed is when the question arises of whether he is the father at all.

Establishing Paternity

Paternity refers to the state of being someone’s father. In a legal sense, establishing paternity is essential for determining who the child’s father is for the purposes of custody and decision-making.

closeup of divorce filing with wedding rings, divorce paperwork, end of relationshipA father need not be genetically related to the child to have paternity rights. If another individual contests a father’s paternity, this means that their rights and obligations are being challenged.

In order to overcome this contestation, the father will need to definitively establish or disestablish paternity.

The methods for doing so can vary depending on the cooperative and non-cooperative parties in the case. Options include:

  • Adoption paperwork – If the father can produce paperwork that indicates that he consented to and participated in the adoption of a child as a parental figure for that child, this may be sufficient to prove paternity in cases of non-genetic relation.
  • Affidavit of parentage – If both spouses are cooperative, they can jointly sign an affidavit declaring that the male figure in question is the father of the child. This attestation places paternity with the father regardless of whether he is biologically related to the child and is most commonly used for step-children.
  • Genetic testing – For fathers who are believed to have a genetic relation to their child, they may undergo genetic testing (typically a cheek swab or blood test) to establish parentage. Either parent may request genetic testing, which means the father may pursue it on his own in the case of a non-compliant spouse who will not sign an affidavit.

Men’s Rights During Disputes

If another party contests a father’s paternity, the man may avail himself of multiple legal rights. He has the right to contest paternity claims, such as by completing a genetic test to demonstrate that he does, in fact, have paternity.

If he can prove paternity on his own, the other partner’s failure to cooperate will not prevent him from pursuing his other rights: potential child support, visitation, custody, and more. He has the right to legal representation and advocacy as well.

An attorney is an essential element in paternity disputes, not only to help prove paternity but to ensure the father is properly leveraging his other rights to secure the outcomes that are rightfully owed to him.

young couple visiting divorce lawyer in officeA legal team experienced in the paternity rights of men can also ensure that the man’s rights are appropriately addressed regarding fair child support determinations and financial disputes that the mother may attempt to leverage in her own favor.

A father has a right to equitable treatment under the law and honest evaluation of his parental, financial, and functional abilities in regards to providing for the child’s best interest.

Securing Men’s Rights During Paternity Disputes

Contacting a divorce attorney experienced in men’s rights is the first step to take when paternity disputes arise. The outcome between achieving fair financial and custody arrangements and being barred from participating in your child’s life going forward is best entrusted to professional representation.

The attorneys at SIEGELLAW defend men’s rights during paternity disputes and the entire divorce process to ensure they receive the treatment they deserve. Contact SIEGELLAW to schedule a consultation if your paternity has been called into question.

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