This is the next post in my series on the rights of Virginia fathers. My last article discussed how Virginia Family Court Judges will often use the “status quo” when making a custody decision. This is due to the fact that one of the things a Judge considers is the historical relationship between the child and each parent. Absent a change in circumstances, many Courts will hesitate to vary away from the historical relationship. In this article I will discuss another important topic – how fathers can proceed when paternity is in dispute. If you require assistance then contact my office today to speak with an attorney.
Virginia is like other states in that it does not recognize the rights of a father until paternity has been established. This means that a dad will have no right to custody or visitation if paternity is in dispute. Under such circumstances, if the mother wishes to withhold information about the child’s schooling or healthcare then they may do so. It is also means that a dad will have no right to pick up his child at a certain time, even if the parties have traditionally employed such an arrangement. This lack of rights, however, cuts both ways. A dad will not be under any obligation to pay child support, to pay a portion of the child’s medical expenses, or to provide healthcare when there is no order in place.
It is important to understand that a father’s obligations can still, in a way, “accrue” while there is no finding of paternity in place. Say, for example, that the parents go to Court to establish paternity and visitation for a three year old child. If the father has provided no support during the first three years of the child’s life then, in many instances, a Judge will order that the dad reimburse the mother for one-half of any medical expenses she has paid on the child’s behalf overy the previous three years. Also, a dad will be required to pay back child support, which is also known as “arrears,” for this time frame. Some dads are under the misunderstanding that they will never be liable for support for periods which occurred when there was no paternity order. Such is not the case.
If you are a father in Virginia Beach or Norfolk and you require assistance with a paternity case then contact my office today. I am experienced in handling such matters and I am ready to assist you. We also service Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Newport News, Hampton, Williamsburg, and Yorktown, as well as the surrounding counties of Northampton, Isle of Wight, York, and James City.