SKILLED IN FATHERS’ RIGHTS CASES
FATHERS CAN FACE A NEGATIVE BIAS IN DIVORCE AND CHILD CUSTODY CASES.
Fathers often get a raw deal in the legal system when it comes to divorce and child custody. At Groth & Associates, our attorneys are committed to helping fathers understand and assert their rights. We are also passionate advocates against bias in the legal system.
If you are going through a divorce or have a paternity dispute, it is important that you contact our law firm now. One of our lawyers will meet with you for a free consultation to review the facts of your case and develop a strategy to protect your rights.
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FATHERS AND PATERNITY
When a mother gives birth to a child, it is obvious who the mother is. But it is not so obvious who the father is. Ohio has complex laws in place that create a presumptive father, even if he is not really the man who fathered the child.
For example, if a man is married to a woman when she gives birth, he will be presumed to be the father. If you are a man who had an affair with a married woman and got her pregnant, then you will need to take extra legal steps to assert your right to see your child.
If the woman is unmarried, she will have sole and exclusive custody of the child until paternity is established. A man can establish paternity in one of the following ways:
- Acknowledge paternity by signing an affidavit. Both the mother and father must sign, which can be done at the time of birth or later. When a man signs this acknowledgment, he gives up the opportunity to have genetic testing.
- Bring a paternity suit in court and request a DNA test to establish whether he is the father.
- Ask the local child support agency to order a DNA test to establish paternity. The agency is more than happy since they can then seek child support from you.
Choosing the best route to take is complicated. For example, if you want to seek custody or visitation, then requesting DNA testing in court is preferable to going to the local child support agency. A judge can create a parenting plan and set child support when determining paternity. A child support enforcement agency does not have the power to do that.
OTHER PRACTICE AREA CASES
FATHERS AND ADOPTION
Ohio seeks to have children placed in loving homes, and sometimes mothers give up their children for adoption. However, adoption can serve to cut off a man’s legal rights, especially when he is not married to the mother at the time of birth and is not the presumed father.
Ohio has created a Putative Father Registry to address this situation. Men can register to receive notice when a mother puts the child up for adoption. Once he receives notice, he should move quickly to establish paternity and seek custody. If those are not desirable options, he should consider whether to register in the first place.
Men have a limited amount of time to register—no later than 15 days after the birth of the child. By registering, a man is not gaining paternity or any legal rights other than the right to be notified when a mother puts a child up for adoption. He will need to take additional legal steps to establish his rights.
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FATHERS AND CHILD CUSTODY
Once upon a time, courts assumed that young children should be with their mothers, but that is not the official position of Ohio courts any longer. Today, mothers and fathers stand on equal footing when it comes to child custody.
Nevertheless, there are many allegations of bias in divorce court. Even if the law doesn’t presume that children should be with the mother, many judges award custody to mothers based on that reason but try to hide that fact.
When deciding custody, Ohio judges should consider a variety of factors to determine what is in the child’s best interest. Different factors can include each parent’s relationship with the child, as well as their willingness to let the other parent maintain a relationship.
This “best interests of the child” test is sufficiently flexible that many judges can hide their bias. Often, a judge will simply assume that the mother is the best choice to raise the children, especially if she did not work full time. As a result, the father gets only limited visitation with the child, all the while paying child support to the mother. This is a patently unfair system.
Our attorneys work to prove that men deserve full or shared custody by establishing their strong relationship with their children. We also work to make sure that child support orders are fair and do not unnecessarily enrich mothers.
FATHERS AND FRIVOLOUS ACCUSATIONS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
To gain leverage in a divorce, some women falsely accuse their husbands of abuse. With a protective order in place, the police force men to move out of the house and away from their children. Fathers might only get supervised visitation with an unrelated adult hovering over their every move.
Allegations of domestic violence can also come into play in child custody decisions since it is one factor judges must consider when deciding custody. Some judges swallow a good story of domestic abuse hook, line, and sinker and will readily believe that a man has been abusive. In reality, many women start violent episodes. And many men are simply trying to defend themselves or to get their wives under control.
To protect your rights as a father, you need a lawyer who understands how to defend against protective orders. We have experience fighting off frivolous requests for orders or getting our clients out of trouble if they inadvertently violate the provisions of one.
PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS
Groth & Associates is committed to fathers’ rights. During a divorce or paternity dispute, you need someone in your corner who understands how the system is sometimes tilted against you.
To meet with a member of our team, please call us today. You can schedule a free, confidential consultation with one of our lawyers.