Family Lawyer Protects West Chester Fathers’ Rights
In custody cases, the best interests of the child should govern, not the gender of a parent. Fathers are entitled to maintain strong relationships with their children after a divorce. With more than 25 years of experience, Catherine H. Voit understands the challenges fathers face and works hard to protect their rights. You can rely on her to resolve your family dispute fairly, while keeping your child’s best interest at the forefront.
Establishing paternity in Pennsylvania
Under Pennsylvania law, when a child is born to an unmarried woman, there is no legal relationship automatically created between the father and the child. To establish paternity, an unwed father can file an acknowledgement of paternity. If the mother consents, the father is granted the same parental rights and responsibilities that he would have if he and the mother were married.
If the mother does not agree, a father may still file the acknowledgment. It will not establish any parental rights, but it will entitle you to notice of any future proceedings to terminate parental rights. Fathers seeking parental rights without the consent of the mother can also ask the court to establish paternity by filing a Petition to Determine Paternity. Once paternity is established, a father enjoys all of the privileges and duties of parenthood, including child custody and child support.
Fathers’ rights under Pennsylvania law
Fathers and mothers enjoy the same rights and responsibilities relating to their children under Pennsylvania law, including:
- Child custody — Both parents are equally entitled to physical and legal custody of the child. In Pennsylvania, courts can no longer presume that custody should be awarded to a particular parent based on gender. In cases where the father has assumed a leading role in his children’s lives, he can be awarded primary custody.
- Visitation — Noncustodial fathers are entitled to visitation or partial physical custody. Courts generally favor liberal parenting time with both the mother and the father, so long as it is in the best interest of the child. If the other parent is violating the court’s orders by interfering with your efforts to spend time with your children, you can enforce your rights in court.
- Child support — Both parents are obligated to contribute to the well-being of their children. Child support may be awarded to either parent, depending on the custody arrangement, the needs of the child and the relative incomes of the parties.
- Modifications — Fathers sometimes fail to protect their parental rights during a divorce proceeding. If you wish to spend more time with your children or take a greater role in their upbringing, you can petition the court to modify an existing child custody order.
Fathers have the right to be an integral part of their children’s lives. If you are facing a paternity dispute or child custody issue, you need an experienced lawyer on your side. Catherine H. Voit is a seasoned mediator and litigator. While she always takes a problem-solving approach to family law issues involving fathers’ and grandparents’ rights, she is a zealous courtroom advocate when the situation warrants.
West Chester family lawyer understands fathers’ legal concerns
The gender of a parent does not make a difference in the eyes of the law. Catherine H. Voit helps fathers establish and enforce their parental rights. To discuss your case, call Catherine today at 484.881.3185 or contact her online. Catherine's office is in West Chester and has plenty of parking.