fathers’ rights

Birth fathers often barely involved in the adoption process

The adoption process is often said to involve a triad. The three corners of it are the child who is being adopted, the parents who are adopting him or her, and the birth mother. These three all work together to create a new life for the child, something that can be beneficial to all three parties. Sounds great, doesn’t it? That’s why this imagery is so often used when looking at adoptions. However, it does leave out a very important person: the child’s biological father. Sometimes, the father just doesn’t have much of a say in the process. Other times, the birth mother does not even tell the birth father that she’s pregnant, so everything happens without his knowledge. Though it’s still a problem today, things are trending in the right direction. Back in the 1970s, the law didn’t even recognize all biological fathers as parents if they weren’t married. Sometimes, their names weren’t on very important documents, like birth certificates. In the modern era, fathers have more status than that, but it’s still been a fight for them to see their roles increased. For one thing, the birth father often has to prove paternity, usually by submitting his DNA. If the father has an objection to the adoption, it can slow the adoption process down considerably. Since fathers have to fight so hard for their parental rights to be recognized, they may eventually win custody of their child, but only after that child has grown significantly, which contributes to

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Information about determing the legal father of a child

You’ve probably heard about establishing paternity, but do you know what that really means? For a father who is not married to the child’s mother, it means that the man who believes he is the child’s father must prove he is. Establishing paternity can be done a couple of ways. One way is to sign a “Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage.” This must be signed by both the mother and the father. The man becomes the child’s legal father when that form is filed with the Registry of Vital Records. The man’s name can then be put on the birth certificate. If the mother does not want to sign the form or the man doesn’t think he is the father of the child, it is best to get a genetic marker paternity tests — a DNA test — to determine the man is the child’s father. If the DNA test shows that the man is the child’s father, then the Department of Revenue will help the father or the mother in asking the court to establish paternity. There are a number of benefits that come with the declaration of a man as the child’s father. These include: — The child gets rights to an inheritance. — The child can access the father’s life insurance benefits and medical benefits. — The child would be eligible to receive veterans benefits and social security benefits if applicable. — The child and the father could develop a relationship. — The child will have a better

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Considerations for custodial parent relocation out of state

Child custody and visitation are frequently some of the most important issues that need to be resolved when a married couple divorces. Sole or joint custody and visitation rights are usually spelled out in the separation agreement or divorce decree, and as long as the situations of both parents do not change afterward then there is usually no need to revisit the matter. But if there is one thing that can be counted on in life, it is that circumstances change over time. For divorced parents, a circumstance that can warrant revisiting child custody arrangements is when one a custodial parent decides that it is time to move out of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and to take the children along. These development can often result in a legal challenge by the noncustodial parent. Massachusetts’s courts have had ample opportunity to consider factors that must be weighed when deciding whether a custodial parent should be allowed to move out of state with the children. Some of these factors include: Is the move in the best interest of the children? Will the quality of their lives be improved by the change? Will there be any possible negative effect on them by eliminating or curtailing their contact with the noncustodial parent? Will the move have any effect on the emotional, physical or developmental needs of the children? Will the custodial parent’s quality of life be positively affected by the move? This can be a consideration in determining whether the relocation is in the

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What’s the difference between visitation and a custody agreement?

Not all relationships last; that is a fact of life. Though many marriages and domestic partnerships in Massachusetts end in a very cut-and-dry manner, separations that involve children can prove more difficult to manage. Custody rights and visitation right are always a top concern among parents who are seeking divorce. It is important to point out that these two rights are not interchangeable. Having a visitation order from court authorities does not mean that the parent with whom the children will be visiting has any custody rights. This is simply a plan that has been created to provide the child with a way to foster a relationship with the parent that they are not living with. Parents can agree on visitation, or the court may give an order for their own plan. There are two different kinds of custody rights that a divorced parent might have. The first is physical custody. This means that the child lives with the parent for the majority of the time. The second is legal custody, which gives the parent the authority to make critical decisions regarding the well-being of the child. It is the mission of the court to satisfy the needs of the child, not the wants of the parents. This should always be kept in mind when dealing with co-parenting arrangements. If you are seeking a divorce, it is important to be aware of your rights as a parent and know the differences between common court orders, such as visitation and custody.

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Massachusetts considering fathers’ rights statute revision

The Massachusetts State House recently heard testimony after testimony from teary-eyed fathers, pleading their case for change in the statutes that dictate shared custody, visitation and other child custody rights. The current proposed bill would push for shared parenting more than one parent over the other having sole custody. Massachusetts is one of about 20 states considering these kinds of laws. Supporters of the bill say shared parenting reduces the longevity and intensity of custody battles and divorce cases altogether. Recent studies have also shown that children benefit from spending as much time as possible with both parents. Sole custody tends to lead to more psychosomatic issues in children. Critics have logic on their side as well. They state that using a blanket law that guarantees visitation rights to both parents is dangerous. It could mean parents who have shown tendencies toward abuse or otherwise are not fit guardians could still be guaranteed visitation. Rather, they say, each dispute should be handled on a case by case basis, and the child’s best interest should also be the top priority. Because of these equally powerful arguments, the Massachusetts House and Senate have not given much indication either way about their ultimate decisions. But, supporters say they are still optimistic about the bill being passed and fathers being given more equitable visitation rights. Anyone who is facing an unfair custody arrangement may benefit from speaking with a divorce law attorney. An experienced lawyer may be able to petition the courts for a

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An unmarried father’s rights begin by establishing paternity

Fostering and maintaining the relationship between a child and both its mother and its father is something that Massachusetts laws encourage regardless of the marital status of the parents. The laws concerning support, custody and visitation focus on the best interests of the child establishing a role for each parent to play in a child’s life. For parents who have never been married, it is important to establish paternity. Paternity may be established through a written acknowledgment signed by both the mother and the father of the child. It can also be the subject of a court proceeding in the Probate and Family Court of Massachusetts. Paternity proceedings usually include DNA testing. Even where the parties sign an acknowledgment of paternity, if the child is under six months of age when it is signed, either party to it may request genetic testing within one year to prove that the acknowledgment is incorrect as to the father of the child. Paternity tests are not an option if the child is six months of age or older when the document was signed. Once paternity has been established, the father has all of the rights and obligations that he would have had if paternity were not an issue. This includes the right to petition the court for shared or sole custody, the right to visitation and the duty to support the child. If the parents can come to an agreement between themselves on custody rights and visitation rights, courts will usually accept it

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State lawmakers consider fathers’ rights in new divorce changes

Most people think of divorce as a contentious process between two people who really don’t like each other anymore. In this stereotypical situation, each spouse wants everything: all the money (and none of the debt), the family home, and, of course, the kids. And in the midst of all the arguing, what is really in the best interest of the child is buried among arguments about assets and hurt feelings. While the courts are responsible for digging the child’s interests out of the heap, even the law that the courts apply don’t always support the best interest of the child. Traditionally, the mother has been awarded primary custody barring some limiting factor such as physical or emotional abuse, substance abuse, or other behaviors that could be detrimental to the child. The Massachusetts legislature is trying to change the traditions and stereotypes that have been at the heart of the family law system for decades. The proposed changes, if adopted, will create a new approach called “Child-Centered Family Law.” The policy of the law is to achieve the goal of meeting the best interest of children though “safe, healthy, and meaningful relationships between children and their parents.” In terms of fathers’ rights, this system may promote a decision-making process that puts the father on a more even plain with the mother when determining visitation rights and even custody. If the bill becomes law, the state of Massachusetts may see an evolution of more equitable rights between parents. But even without the

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Parenting time interference and the available remedies

One of the matters that is often resolved in a Massachusetts divorce case that involves children is the amount of parenting time each party will be entitled to. Even after an order has been entered, disagreements could arise between the parents, resulting in parenting time interference. This involves one parent interrupting the other’s time with the children, and the disruption may in some cases be considered a criminal offense. Parenting arrangements are not always formal, but having the court approve them helps the parents enforce their rights if a dispute arises. Interference with parenting time could occur indirectly or directly. Indirect parenting time interference may involve one parent disrupting the other parent’s communication with the children by refusing to let the children accept phone calls from the parent or preventing the other parent from becoming involved in school events or extracurricular activities. Other forms of indirect interference include one parent asking the kids to report on the other parent’s personal life, trying to persuade or force the children to refuse to visit with the other parent or belittling the other parent. Direct parenting time interference may also take several forms. One parent, for example, could take the children without permission to keep them from seeing the other parent. The parent may breach the court order and move to another state with the kids, refuse to return the children, or fail to drop them off at a scheduled visitation time. In some situations, one parent might try to prevent the other

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