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Fathers’ Rights Lawyers Protecting Dads in Worcester, Hanover, & Westborough in Worcester County

As a father involved in a Massachusetts family law case, it is not unusual to perceive that courts are biased towards mothers. This perception has become less prevalent as beliefs have grown that children benefit most when parented by both their mother and their father. However, some stereotypes may still exist, resulting in child custody, visitation, and support orders that do not always protect the legal rights of fathers in these matters.

Too often, upon ending a relationship, as a father you may be seen only as a source of child support and not as an equally capable parent by the other parent. Because child support payments may be decreased significantly if you share 50/50 physical custody with the other parent, the other parent may want primary custody to ensure you pay more. If this describes your situation, if you have questions about establishing paternity, or are concerned about protecting your parental rights, we advise that you turn to O’Connor Family Law and one of our Worcester fathers’ rights attorneys. With many combined decades of exclusive family law experience, we are well-equipped to handle the various aspects of your case while protecting access to your children.

Do you have a fathers’ rights issue? Turn to a trusted professional at O’Connor Family Law for answers and appropriate legal action. Contact us at (774) 315-4220 for a consultation.

Potential Challenges to a Father’s Rights

If no evidence exists that you, as a father, are any less qualified to provide a safe and nurturing home to your child than the mother, your child will always benefit from your love, support, and involvement. However, several court proceedings exist where it may be necessary to initially defend your rights as a father and protect your relationship with your child. Our highly-respected attorneys can offer legal advocacy during these proceedings which include establishing paternity, custody and visitation, and termination of parental rights.

Establishing Paternity

When parents are married at the time of a child’s birth, state law presumes that the father is the legal parent, giving him automatic parental rights to the child. If you were not married at the time of your child’s birth, you do not have parental rights until they are granted by the court through a court order. If you and the mother sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage, your paternity will be established. You will not have to prove that you are the child’s biological father. If you do not sign this form and are not listed as the father on the child’s birth certificate, you will generally have to prove that you are the biological father through a paternity action before you can seek custody or visitation rights. This generally involves a DNA test that confirms your paternity.

The Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage does not, in and of itself, provide you as a father with legal or custodial rights to the child. It does make you responsible for child support. Even if the mother informally agrees that you should have any form of custody, you can only obtain valid custody rights through the court. If you have signed an Acknowledgment but question whether you actually are the biological father, you only have a relatively small timeframe to take action before you will be legally viewed as the father regardless of paternity.

Custody & Visitation

If you have previously been established as the biological father through marriage or a paternity action, you have the right to pursue custody or visitation with your child. Massachusetts law requires that judges decide custody based on what is in the child’s best interests. Generally, courts presume that a child’s best interests are served by both parents’ involvement and ability to make legal decisions concerning the child. Therefore, shared legal custody is favored. If you do not believe the child should be with his or her mother or that you should have sole legal custody, you must prove the mother’s parental unfitness to care for the child.

In some cases, an unmarried mother may use her child to control the father by denying him access to the child if he fails to do as she says or demands more money. In the most serious of these cases, a mother may falsely allege abuse, neglect, or domestic violence against the father to further restrict or control him. Emergency restraining orders may be issued by the courts without a father being present. In such situations, you should retain our services if the mother even threatens police or restraining order actions against you.

    "O'Connor Family Law and specifically Lydia Field were amazing throughout my entire divorce process. Lydia was so knowledgeable, responsive, and helpful as we worked through the mountains of paperwork."

    - Sarah M.

    "I am so happy with the services Attorney Khan provided, she came in at the last minute after a previous attorney did not fulfil his duties and she found errors he had made, worked all weekend on a rush to finalize my divorce."

    - Courtney O.

    "LaKeshia Parker Smalls and her team were so wonderful throughout my divorce process. I spoke with a few other lawyers before hiring her who made me feel like a burden with all the questions I needed answers to."

    - Jessica C.

    "Sasha Khan worked with me for 10 months on a child custody modification. She had a difficult case with the opposing party, but was very professional and driven to defend me and give advice through a very difficult time in my life."

    - Shannon W.

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