Tuesday, September 29, 2009

How Paternity Can Effect Custody

WomensLaw.org receives hundreds of emails to the Email Hotline every year asking about what a father's custody rights are if the mother and father are not married.

Whether the father has custody rights already or whether he would have to go to court to file for custody rights depends on whether his paternity has been established. Establishing paternity is when a biological father does something to legally declare himself the father. A mother's custody rights are automatically established at birth but a father has to do something to declare his custody rights if you are not married. Was the father there at the hospital during delivery? Did he ever sign the birth certificate or any other papers at the hospital? Is he paying child support through the state? If so, you may have already acknowledged that he is the father. If not, he may have to go to court to file a petition to establish his paternity. The specific laws for this are different in each state which is why is can be extremely helpful to talk to a lawyer who specializes in custody to find out if his paternity has been established and, if so, what your rights are under your state's law. You can find lawyers in your state on Finding a Lawyer pages of WomensLaw.org.

Even if his paternity was established, if you disagree with giving him the visitation he wants, you may want to make him file for visitation in court. However, sometimes this could backfire because he may end up with more visitation than you want him to have (or even shared custody). Therefore, it is sometimes better to try to work something out regarding visitation rather than leaving it up to a judge. Talking to a lawyer about what type of visitation you want him to have and what he may realistically end up with if you leave it up to a judge may help you decide whether you want to go forward with a court case or whether you want to work out something informal with him.

Once his paternity is established, it may allow him to have visitation or custody rights to the child but it could also allow you to go to court to get child support from him.

If you need more information about your specific situation please write to the Email Hotline.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Spotlight: NC Legal Empowerment and Advocacy Project

The North Carolina Legal Empowerment and Advocacy Project, a joint project between WomensLaw.org and the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCCADV), is in its second year of service providing help to victims of abuse and their families.

Under the direction of Brenda Rivera-Sanchez, the Legal Project Coordinator, pro bono lawyers in NC are recruited and trained to represent domestic violence victims in court about issues like restraining orders, custody, divorce and housing laws. The project also helps domestic violence victims through the WomensLaw.org Email Hotline and the NCCADV telephone helpline (1-888-232-9124).

Read more about the laws in North Carolina on WomensLaw.org or contact Nina (at) WomensLaw.org for more information about the project.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Know Your Rights Thursday

"You have the right to your own privacy."

To read more about your rights visit WomensLaw.org.