Although fathers rights differ from country to country and from state to state somehow, the principles are similar in most places. Except in Australia, where mothers are still favored. Biological fathers have rights and duties. Official fathers have rights and duties too.
Fathers that were married when the child was conceived, are considered to be the official father and have the paternity rights by default. Unregistered unmarried fathers can claim paternity rights via a paternity test that proves they are the biological father. In the USA paternity can be established through the state's office of child support enforcement.
In the USA and Canada, fathers rights are mainly related to the official parenthood. If you are not an official or registered father, you have no rights.
In the United Kingdom however, the judges look to who has taken care of the kids. Usually, if a father took care of a child during the last three years, the father has the right to stay in close contact with the child. In normal circumstances the parents sign a Parental Responsibility Agreement. Then, the father has his parental rights. When the mother refuses to sign the Parental Responsibility Agreement, the father can request parental responsibility with the court.
The UK court will take into account:
In Australia, things have changed since 2006 when the family law was changed. The idea was to give both parents equal rights in line with the best interest of the children. Before 2006, women were given almost al the rights. However, in 2007 women's action groups started to campaign against the newly won father's rights. This has set fathers rights back again. If a mother makes a case about violence (not limited to physical violence), the father loses his parental rights almost always.
If the father is registered in the official birth register, the mother cannot give her child for adoption without informing the father.Unmarried unregistered father
In the USA unmarried fathers can add their names to the putative father registry to avoid that the mother puts his child in an adoption procedure without this approval. There are strict requirements to inform the father for women who want to give their children for adoption when the father is registered.
In Canada, if the mother decides to offer her child for adoption, she is not obliged to inform the father. The father has no legal rights unless he is officially registered. A not registered father can go to court to ask for the official recognition. To obtain his fathers rights a paternity test must be done. Only then the father can protect his legal interests regarding his child.
In Canada, Registered fathers have the right to custody. This does not mean he will get custody of his child automatically. The judge will look primarily at who was and is the primary caretaker and what will be in the best interest of the child when deciding.
Unregistered fathers have no custody rights at all. The fact that he is or has been the primary caretaker does not matter at all.
The same principle applies to the USA. As explained above, a man needs to have paternity rights to apply for custody.
In Canada, registerd fathers - married or unmarried - can be ordered by the courts to pay child support. Only if the father can prove he is not the biological father, he can undo the court ordered child support. In this case, a paternity test is required too.
Not registered fathers are not obliged to contribute child support. Only if a paternity test proves he is the official father - which can be ordered by the court - he can be obliged to pay child support.
The same principle applies for child support in the USA too. As explained above, a man needs to have paternity rights in order to be court ordered to pay child support.
Visitation rights are linked to the custody arrangement ordered by the court. Without paternity rights or parental responsibility rights, a father can be refused visitation rights. However, having those rights does not automatically give the father visitation rights.
Acquiring visition right for a non custodian father is the next step in the process. Violent or abusive fathers are often refused visitation rights.
Depending on who has custody, the father might have the decision power for the important life issues of the child. Among those are: education, religion, place where they live, health care and maintenance. In joint custody situations, the parents make these decisions jointly. If the custody has been awarded to the mother, the father has no decision rights.
In the U.K. parents have to come to an agreement between themselves. It rarely happens that a court interferes. This is also true for parenting.
In the case of co-parenting, both the father and the mother will spend a considerable amount of time with the children. This is important for the well being of the children. Although the decision power (custody) can be assigned to one of the parents, parenting can be done in conjunction.
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