We hold to the notion that the tide is turning for fathers seeking their full parenting rights. It can be a slow process. A lot depends, of course, on the laws of the state in which such disputes arise.
In Arkansas, family court judges have a greater amount of latitude in framing fathers’ rights than might be the case in other states. Because of that, it’s wise to work with experienced legal counsel to level the playing field.
Legal rights can be a two-sided coin. Most would likely agree that a biological father who wants to maintain a relationship with his offspring should be given every opportunity to do that, presuming the case can be made that it would be in the child’s best interest. On the other hand, there are cases in which DNA testing proves that the man presumed to be dad under the law is not a child’s biological father. What should happen then?
That kind of question generates challenging issues for courts, and very often, the final decision doesn’t leave anyone satisfied. A case out of Colorado may serve as a good example.
The parties in the case are a man, his ex-wife, and a 15-year-old daughter. The adults have been divorced since the child was 2 1/2 years old, and the father has been paying $730 a month in child support since that time. Here’s where the fly gets in the ointment.
As this is written, the man’s name is on the child’s birth certificate. But when she was 11, DNA testing showed that another man is her father. For the past four years, the birth certificate father has not seen the minor child. While the mother says he abandoned the relationship, he says his ex-wife interfered with his visitation rights.
The father, armed with the DNA evidence and representing himself, went to court seeking either to have his visitation rights restored or to have his support obligations ended. The judge refused to hear the matter. One reason reportedly given was that the plaintiff hadn’t followed the proper rules for submitting evidence. When he returned with a lawyer, the judge said he’d missed his opportunity to submit the DNA results.
What this reflects is that It makes sense to have an attorney with you, regardless of what legal outcome you are seeking.