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Fathers' Rights in Divorce and Beyond

What rights does a father have during a divorce?

While on paper the family law courts in Columbia are directed to treat both parents in a divorce equally, it often occurs that the mother receives preferential treatment on matters of child custody. Formerly, our state applied a "Tender Years Doctrine" to custody disputes, making it almost the default to award custody to the mother in cases involving very young children, but our legislature has formally abolished this practice and now prefers to give each parent a fair chance at claiming custody. Even so, it is in your best interests to prepare to fight for your right to maintain a meaningful role in your children's lives—otherwise you could be relegated to a limited schedule of visitation or even be cut out of their lives entirely.

If you are serious about defending your rights as a father, come to Masella Law Firm, P.A. for help. Our Columbia divorce lawyer has extensive experience, and we are ready to fight for you. In determining how to award child custody and visitation, the judge will weigh all evidence of what is in the best interests of the children, including questions such as which parent can provide a more stable and safe home environment, which parent has been the primary caregiver and in some cases weighing the preference of the children. We will work to prepare a strong and compelling argument to support your side and will tirelessly pursue a parenting plan which gives you the greatest possible access to your children.

Paternity Actions in Columbia, SC

A father who is not married to the mother at the time of birth is not legally presumed to have a paternal relationship to the child, and will neither have the right to child custody and visitation, nor will he be obligated to pay child support. If you are in this position and have decided that you want to petition for custody or visitation, you will need to take legal steps to affirm your biological relationship. We can assist you in filing a paternity action, using means such as DNA testing to prove that you are the child's father, after which the judge may agree to grant you privileges of visitation or custody if these would serve the child's best interests. If the judge approves your request, you will be required to work out a parenting plan for sharing rights and responsibilities and for determining how you will cooperate with the mother in raising the child.

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