What Are Your Rights As A Father?
The way our children are raised has changed dramatically since the early 19th century. It was the societal norm for the mother to be the primary caretaker, and providing the daily needs of the children in a household was commonplace. While their father was working outside the home, their mother would be providing the child-rearing responsibilities. Many states still have laws that reflect that notion and presume that the mother is the better of the two parents. While New York openly acknowledges the importance of a father’s role in recent years, historically, the family courts had a tendency to give mothers preferential treatment when awarding child custody. However, the family dynamics have changed and today many dual income households exist. With that change, there are many more stay at home fathers. As a result, fathers today are playing more active roles in their children’s upbringing than ever before. This societal shift has been recognized by family courts nationwide, and has led to fathers being afforded the same rights to child custody as mothers.
5 mistakes fathers must avoid in family court:
- Ignoring court papers and doing nothing – Being served court papers can be very nerve-wracking and overwhelming but doing nothing is the biggest mistake of all! It is not uncommon that men fail to respond to legal actions. Simply not doing anything is no way to protect your legal interests. Father’s think that their significant other will “drop” the case or they try to work out an agreement outside of court. Generally speaking, women follow through with their legal matters for a variety of reasons. In New York, many divorce judgments or family court hearings are by default or inquest. A “default judgment” or “inquest” being entered against you means that everything your spouse has requested in her petition will be granted. On its own, the Court may also make additional orders it deems “necessary and proper”. The bottom line is if you are served with papers, always respond! The court system is not a very forgiving system. If you fail to respond to any family law legal action in Supreme court or Family Court, which you are a party, you may lose forever certain rights related to your case.
- Getting wrong or incorrect legal advice: Almost everyone has a family member or friend that has been through a divorce or related family court matter. When these well-intentioned family members or friends learn that you are facing family law legal problems they are quick to give you advice to help you with your case. Unfortunately, Family law legal issues are not all the same and responding to them requires that your are informed with correct, accurate and complete advice to understand how your legal issue may be different than your well-intentioned family member’s advice. While the advice you are being offered may have worked for your friend’s situation, it may not for yours. The information they dispense is often incorrect, incomplete and/or outdated. (In some instances Illegal). Family laws and legal guidelines used by the Court can change. There is no substitute for accurate legal information that specifically pertains to your case. Acting on bad legal advice can be worse than not doing anything. Take the time to learn the facts.
- Signing a bad settlement agreement: Men that have failed to obtain the proper information and assistance often sign a bad settlement agreement called a 888 Remember, the Court will often not care what agreements two sides of a legal action make provided they are negotiated and agreed to by both parties. As a general rule, don’t sign an agreement if it’s not what you want. Changing a final divorce agreement and/or stipulated order on any family law issue is very difficult and in some cases impossible.
- Failing to follow the agreement or court orders: The message in number mistake #3 is simple. Don’t sign an agreement you don’t like. However if, after having been properly advised, you like the agreement being offered, sign it! But, don’t sign anything, especially an agreement reduced to a court order, that you do not intend to live by. The court has little patience with those who don’t follow court orders. Non-compliance with court orders can severely prejudice your case. A court may even consider holding a party in contempt of court, which can lead to monetary fines or jail time to be imposed.
- Becoming frustrated and giving up: For father’s, it sure can feel that the Family Court continues to be biased in favor of women. Although this bias has subsided in recent years due to new laws and guidelines, it still exists. Admittedly there is nothing more frustrating than watching a Judge or mediator allow a woman to ramble on and on about her position and yet not give the man even a moment to respond in support of his position. Despite the prevalent bias men should never get so frustrated that they lose their composure. Patience is a great virtue in Family Court. Don’t forget that a family law case can wind through the court system because many issues may not be completely resolved until the children involved in the proceedings become adults. Therefore, your involvement in the case is not limited to just the present court date or most recent filing. You may face court again in the future. Don’t get discouraged and never just give up!
What do I do now?
Call To Speak With A Fathers Rights Law Firm
We are a client-focused firm that will protect your needs and those of your children. Once you have empowered yourself with the correct information, make the right decision If you need more family law information regarding child custody arrangements, contact us at (718) 737-9669 to schedule an initial consultation. We will set up a telephone consultation, if necessary, and will meet with you at our office conveniently located across the street from Bronx family court.
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