How can I keep my child custody rights as a father? 30 Answers as of August 24, 2011

I have a seven month old son with a woman I could vent about for a week. After announcing her pregnancy, I immediately moved into her house, (well from my apt to her couch) and after the birth we agreed to live together for the first year, ( understand that we have had no intention of being "a couple") for support of the child. I changed my job and housing so that I can do my part to take care of him, (I have him about 75% of the time). I truly believe his mother is an awful person, and she is now threatening to take him away. We have taken no steps legally, as of yet. What do I need to do to protect what ever rights this sexist system offers?

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Law Office of Karen A. Clark, L.L.C.
Law Office of Karen A. Clark, L.L.C. | Karen A. Clark
I would suggest that you contact an attorney immediately. One parent cannot simply deny the other parent access to his/her child. A good attorney will be able to help you to craft a child custody petition or agreement that will preserve your parental rights.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 8/24/2011
Beresford Booth PLLC
Beresford Booth PLLC | S. Scott Burkhalter
You need to start a paternity action.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 8/5/2011
Neville J. Bedford Attorney at Law
Neville J. Bedford Attorney at Law | Neville J. Bedford
Make sure you are on the birth certificate. Your rights spring from that document.
Answer Applies to: Rhode Island
Replied: 8/3/2011
Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
First, get DNA, make sure the child is yours. This is for your protection and it is evidence you will need later anyway if she tries to take your child from you. If DNA is not a viable option at this time, file a Suit to Establish Paternity and the Court will order DNA for you.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 8/1/2011
Wallin & Klarich: A Law Corporation
Wallin & Klarich: A Law Corporation | Paul Wallin
You need to go to court to legally establish your paternity. When you do that you can file an order to show cause asking for joint legal custody and primary physical custody.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 8/1/2011
    Horizons Law Group, LLC
    Horizons Law Group, LLC | Michelle B. Fitzgerald
    You would need to start a paternity action through the courts. It can become complicated, so I advise speaking to or hiring an attorney to do this.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 8/1/2011
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    You must commence an action to determine custody and parenting time. The court determines such issues based on what it believes to be in the best interests of the child. The outcome may depend on how well you prepare your case and document your concerns related to the other parties parenting. You should hire expereienced legal counsel.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 8/1/2011
    Vincent J. Bernabei LLC
    Vincent J. Bernabei LLC | Vincent J. Bernabei
    Wait until you've established 90 days of taking care of the child 75% of the time. Then file and obtain a status quo order that will order both parties to retain the schedule that has occurred over the past 90 days.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 8/1/2011
    Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser
    Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser | Donald F. Conviser
    An attitude adjustment would help - don't vote against success or you will guarantee failure. You would best retain an experienced Family Law Attorney to counsel and represent you in a Paternity case under the Uniform Parentage Act. If you come across to the Judge in that case as a responsible, caring, appropriate parent, you might end up with an award of sole or primary custody of your child.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/1/2011
    Michael D. Fluke, P.A.
    Michael D. Fluke, P.A. | Michael D. Fluke
    You need to file a Paternity action to establish your legal rights as the father. I suggest you consult a local Family Law attorney to discuss your case in greater detail and learn all of your rights and options. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 7/31/2011
    Law Office of Michael E. Hendrickson
    Law Office of Michael E. Hendrickson | Michael E. Hendrickson
    File for sole custody of the child in the local J&DR court in the jurisdiction where the child resides.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 7/31/2011
    Law Office of Roianne H. Conner
    Law Office of Roianne H. Conner | Roianne Houlton Conner
    You must file a petition in the Child Support Court to have your legal rights established.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 7/31/2011
    Law Office of Patricia Van Haren
    Law Office of Patricia Van Haren | Patricia Van Haren
    California does not consider the sex of a parent as a factor in determining custody of a child. All court look at what is in the best interests of the child. As a general rule courts consider that the children's best interests are to have a close relationship with both parents. In considering primary custody, a court will look at who is the primary caregiver, any substance abuse issues of the parents, domestic violence, and which parent is likely to provide the non-custodial parent with greater access to the child. You would likely want to consult with a family law attorney to protect your interests.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/31/2011
    Ashman Law Office
    Ashman Law Office | Glen Edward Ashman
    Stop venting as the legal fault is yours, not the "system." The reason you have no rights is that you chose not to file a legitimization, and then move a court to deal with custody, visitation and support. Until you do that, you cannot do anything.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 7/31/2011
    Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock
    Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock | Arlene D. Kock
    The family law courts protect parenting relationships for the child's best interest. With that standard in mind, you should file a paternity petition to establish that you are the biological father and a motion to request custody of the child.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/30/2011
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
    You need to begin a paternity case to judicially establish that you are the child's father and to have the court adopt a Parenting Plan that spells exactly what your rights and responsibilities are as the father. If you can convince the court or a parenting professional appointed by the court that you have been the child's primary caretaker since birth, as you contend, there is a good chance that you will be allowed to continue as the primary caretaker where the child resides most of the time. The primary goal of a court, if you and the mother cannot agree on a suitable Parenting Plan, is to serve the child's best interests. As a rule, the best thing for a child is to have two, loving and involved parents who can work together to raise the child even if they are not married and do not live together. Fr
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 7/30/2011
    Law Office of James Lentz
    Law Office of James Lentz | James Lentz
    I assume you are not married. Until you ask for visitation and a share of the parenting you have no rights to the child. Ohio Revised Code is specific, that until an order of the court changes things, the mother of the child is both the sole residential and custodial parent. You change that by going to a lawyer and hiring the lawyer to get some rights for you by order of the court. He or she will also insist upon a paternity test to verify that the child is yours.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 7/30/2011
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn | Paul Zahn
    You can file a Petition to Establish a Parental Relationship.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/30/2011
    Goolsby Law Office
    Goolsby Law Office | Richard Goolsby
    We recommend you retain a family law lawyer concerning your rights and options as to a legitimation action. Good luck!
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 7/30/2011
    Law Office of Richard B. Kell
    Law Office of Richard B. Kell | Richard B. Kell
    he court system does seem sexist for many fathers. However, this has more to do with protecting children of unwed parents in general rather than hurting fathers. Without knowing more about your situation, I can say that the fact that you have had your son with you about 75% of the time is a big plus in your favor when it comes to a custody battle in court. The reason that most fathers get the short end in custody battles is because mothers tend to be the parent that spends the most time with the child(ren). The best thing you can do at this point is to retain a family law attorney to help you establish your custody rights early on in the child's life. Otherwise, you are going to be constantly fighting with the mother - who (because the child was born out of wedlock) is currently the only parent that has any rights to the child - for the next 18+ years. And if threats are already being made, time is of the essence. Best of luck.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 7/30/2011
    Correia-Champa & Mailhot
    Correia-Champa & Mailhot | Susan Correia Champa
    Hire an attorney immediately and ask the court Coe custody. If you are the primary care taker you should file a complaint for paternity immediately. If there is tension in the household be careful to avoid having a restraining order filed against you. If that happens you are out of the house and she will have custody. Contact an attorney immediately.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 7/30/2011
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller | Jody A. Miller
    Under Georgia law, you must file a petition for legitimation before you can claim any rights to the child. A father of a child born out of wedlock has no rights to the child unless and until he legitimates the child through the court process. You can ask for custody or visitation rights in the legitimation case. The sooner you file your petition, the better chance you will have of presenting a custody case. If, as you say, you have him overnight 75% of the time, you may have a viable custody case. You need to see a lawyer asap and make arrangements to file a legitimation case and decide what type of custodial rights to pursue. If you do not file a legitimation case, you will have no rights to the child and the mother will have the legal right (albeit not the moral right) to keep the child from you or restrict access. Feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss pursing your case.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 7/30/2011
    Bagwell Holt Smith Jones & Crowson, P.A.
    Bagwell Holt Smith Jones & Crowson, P.A. | John G. Miskey IV
    You can reach a Parenting Agreement or go to Court. Find an attorney who will not take less than 50/50 for an answer. Our consultations are $75 and we bill by the case, not the hour.
    Answer Applies to: North Carolina
    Replied: 7/30/2011
    Joanna Mitchell & Associates, P.A.
    Joanna Mitchell & Associates, P.A. | Joanna Mitchell
    You need to file a paternity action in order to establish your rights legally as the biological father. You have equal rights with the Mother, but only once they are established legally by you being adjudicated the biological father. Once you are established as the biological father, then parental responsibility, time sharing (visitation) and child support will be determined, either by agreement or by the Judge. And father's rights have gotten substantially stronger in the past several years. Father's are being awarded equal time or close thereto with their children on a regular basis, if that is what they desire to have and what is in the child's best interest. You should consult with an attorney who practices in the county where you reside as soon as possible in order to best protect your rights and those of your child. My office offers free initial telephone consultations for potential clients in the Central Florida area
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 7/30/2011
    Seattle Divorce Services
    Seattle Divorce Services | Michael V. Fancher
    Under Washington law the best thing would be to file a parentage action with the court to establish a parenting plan for the child. That would determine the time that the child is to be with you and the time that the child is to be with the mother. Then if she decided to move out of the area, she would have to give a notice of intent to relocate, and you could file an objection to the relocation or have the parenting plan modified to accommodate living in different areas.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 7/30/2011
    Glenn E. Tanner
    Glenn E. Tanner | Glenn E. Tanner
    See an attorney. For all I know you're the primary caretaker. You will need to file a parentage action and get an appropriate parenting plan in place. Meanwhile, don't move out and maximize your time and quality of interactions with your child.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 7/30/2011
    Law Office of Michael W. Bugni
    Law Office of Michael W. Bugni | Jay W. Neff
    First, did you sign and file a paternity declaration with the state? If so, that will make matters a little easier. If not, then, the first thing that is going to have to happen is that paternity will have to be established through the court system. Once paternity is established, either through the paternity declaration process or through court action, you are going to have to file a parenting plan action with the court. You will probably also want to have a motion for a temporary parenting plan as well. The ultimate goal is to get a parenting plan that you can live with, either through settlement or through trial. The idea is that the parenting plan sets out all of your rights and obligations.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 7/30/2011
    Law Office of Aubrey Srednicki
    Law Office of Aubrey Srednicki | Aubrey Srednicki
    It is important that you file the appropriate pleadings in the proper court so that you can enforce your rights as a father. In Arizona, the court in determining custody shall not prefer a parent as custodian because of that parent's sex. Thus, it is important that you speak with skilled legal counsel to evaluate the facts and circumstances in your matter so that you can best protect your legal rights.

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    Answer Applies to: Arizona
    Replied: 8/2/2011
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP | Christine Gonilla
    Start to learn about the law and file a motion
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 7/30/2011
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