Fathers have rights in North Carolina, so long as the court has not limited or revoked those rights. As a father, you have the right to make significant life decisions on your child’s behalf and spend time with them.
You may have additional rights as a parent in North Carolina. However, those rights may come under threat if the child’s other parent or the courts take adverse action against you. In such cases, hiring a family law attorney may be beneficial to maintaining your rights.
Establishing Paternity May Be the First Step in Accessing Your Fatherly Rights
Family law attorneys in North Carolina know that the question of paternity is not as simple as many fathers assume. You may need to formalize your status as the child’s father and may do so by:
- Pursuing a paternity action: This method is common in cases where shared parents were not married at the time of the child’s birth. Through genetic testing, the father may establish himself as the biological parent and obtain his paternal rights.
- Showing proof of marriage: If you were married to the child’s mother at the time of their birth, North Carolina law presumes you to be the father. Unless the mother proves otherwise, you have your parental rights.
- Filing an Affidavit of Parentage: This option also generally works for those not married to the child’s mother at the time of birth. If you and the mother sign a statement swearing that you are the child’s father, this Affidavit of Parentage may establish your paternal rights.
Our family law attorneys will review the details of your paternity and pursue the action most appropriate for your circumstances.
Specific Rights You Have as a Father in North Carolina
So long as the court does not impose any restrictions on your rights as a father, North Carolina allows you both:
- Legal custody: Legal custody grants you authority to make decisions on the child’s behalf, such as where they attend school, what types of medical treatment they will or won’t receive, and other decisions affecting the child’s quality of life and welfare.
- Physical custody: Fathers have a right to see their children. You and the child’s mother may have the opportunity to arrange a custody agreement that suits both of your lives and schedules. If you cannot reach an agreement, your attorney will petition the court to instill a physical custody agreement that maintains your rights as a father.
Parents who are divorced, separated, or never married often disagree on matters of legal and physical custody. Generally, the presiding family court will settle such disputes after hearing arguments from each parent’s attorneys.
Such disputes can directly affect a child’s quality of life (for better or worse), so it is helpful that you have an attorney fighting for your parental interests.
You May Be Entitled to Child Support as a Father
While we commonly assume that a father must pay the mother child support for children under 18, there are cases where the father deserves child support. You may have a right to financial support from the child’s mother if:
- Your income is less than the mother’s.
- You have primary or total custody of the child, meaning you bear the primary or total financial responsibility for raising the child.
If you must pay child support, you have the right to pay only a reasonable amount of support. Child support payments can become disproportionately burdensome for a father if:
- The father loses his job, changes his career, suffers an injury, or experiences other circumstances that decrease his income.
- The child changes schools or experiences other life changes that decrease the cost of raising the child.
- The mother gets a new job or promotion that increases her ability to pay for the child’s upbringing.
- The mother marries someone who is able to provide financial support for the child.
Our attorneys regularly help fathers in North Carolina reduce child support payments to reflect changing life circumstances.
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North Carolina Does Not Discriminate Against Fathers in Custody Issues
While there are countless cases of fathers being treated unfairly in child custody cases, North Carolina does not formally place fathers at a custodial disadvantage. The North Carolina Judicial Branch explains that “either parent can be awarded custody of a child of any age” and that neither parent has an inherently greater right to custody of the child.
Unique Family Circumstances May Affect a Father’s Child Custody
The court is supposed to consider every relevant detail of a family matter. Its decisions regarding a father’s (or mother’s) parental rights should revolve around what is best for the child.
A father’s right to partial or full custody of a child in North Carolina may depend on:
- The father’s and mother’s current living situations, including whether they have a home fit for a child
- The father’s and mother’s current employment and income, as these could have implications for the safety of the child in the home
- The father’s and mother’s psychological and emotional stability
A father’s rights in North Carolina are guaranteed until circumstances require otherwise. The child’s mother or the courts may need to prove you’re unfit to maintain your rights if they’re motivated to do so. Otherwise, you have no reason not to exercise your full rights as a father.
Call Us Today About Exercising Your Rights as a Father in North Carolina
Father’s rights are pivotal not just to the parent’s well-being but also to the child’s. Kids need their dads, and our firm prides itself on helping dedicated fathers exercise their rights. We can help with custody issues, child support problems, or any other family law matter you need assistance with.
Call Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC, today for a consultation.