Father holding daughterThis is the next post in the series on the rights of Virginia fathers. Our last article provided an overview of subjects which this series will be addressed, and it stressed the need to speak with an attorney as soon as possible if you are involved in a child custody dispute. It is important that you speak to counsel sooner, rather than later, so that you can gain a court order as soon as possible. In this article, we will provide a general overview as to how our state views the rights of a dad in relation to those of a mother. If you require assistance then contact our office today to speak with a lawyer.

The rights of a Virginia father are viewed as equal to those of a mother

There is a common misconception among many parents that a mother will typically have all the rights. This is not the case in our state. As long as paternity has been established, the rights of a Virginia father and those of a mother are viewed as equal. This means that, when parents go to court to establish a child custody arrangement, the court will begin the case with no preference between the parents. Courts will typically lean towards a joint custody arrangement but the Judge’s final decision will always be based on the best interests of a child. When determining what is in a child’s best interests, the Court will consider things such as:

  • The wishes of the child (assuming he or she is of a sufficient age)
  • The ability of each parent to meet the child’s needs
  • The nature of the relationship between the child and each parent
  • The source of any conflict between the parents
  • The need of the child to maintain a relationship with any siblings

How the court views a given situation will always depend on the specific facts of a case.

One important fact to understand is that a dad will be seen as having no rights if his paternity of the child has not been established. There are two ways in which paternity is established in our state. First, if the parents are married at the time of the child’s birth then paternity will be presumed. Second, if the parents are not married, the parents can sign an “Acknowledgement of Paternity.” This is typically done at the hospital, shortly after birth, but can be done at any time. If paternity has not been established then a paternity action must be brought before custody and visitation can be established.

Fathers should take immediate action if they wish to assert their rights

If you are a dad then it is important that you take immediate action in a child custody case. If you are unhappy with the current arrangement then it is important to understand that, the longer you allow it to go on, the longer the court will view your arrangement as an acceptable “status quo.” By taking immediate steps you help to ensure your right to custody and visitation.

Contact our office today to speak with a child custody lawyer. We handle many such matters and my office is ready to assist you.