Washington gives mothers and fathers equal rights to child custody. But some still feel that courts do not treat fathers fairly. Read on for an overview of fathers’ rights in child custody cases, including an added step that some fathers may have to take to establish entitlement to custody or visitation – establishing paternity.
Establishing Parentage of the Child
A mother establishes parentage of her child automatically when she gives birth to the child. However, the law does not automatically establish a father’s parentage in certain situations. So fathers who wish to exercise child custody rights should ensure that they fully establish parentage of the child.
Below are some means through which fathers establish paternity of a child.
- Un-rebutted presumption (being married to the child’s mother at time of birth)
- Signed paternity acknowledgement
- A court order
- Consented reproduction with a spouse or domestic partner who is the parent of the child
- Valid surrogate parentage contract
If you have not already established paternity, doing so will play a major role in your legal rights regarding custody of the child.
How Does Washington State Determine Child Custody?
If a child’s parents are getting a divorce, the parents will work on creating a parenting plan. This outlines with which parent the child will live primarily and when the other will have visitation with the child. The custodial parent – with whom the child resides primarily – either can be the father or the mother. There is no rule that a mother must be the custodial parent.
If the parents cannot agree to an acceptable parenting plan, a judge will have to determine custody and other matters. When a judge is responsible for making a decision about child support and custody in Washington, he or she must consider the best interests of the child. A judge will consider the arrangement which best meets the child’s psychological, emotional, and physical needs.
Some of the factors a judge might consider are below.
- Ability of each parent to care for the child or provide for special needs
- Each parent’s health
- Each parent’s relationship with the child
- The child’s preference in some cases (if old enough to express a preference)
Contact a Family Law Attorney at the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny
Fathers are often concerned that they will get an unfair custody agreement. But under the law, the judge making custody decisions cannot make a decision based on the sex of either parent. The Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny can represent a father’s legal rights to child custody. To get in touch with us today, call 425-460-0550 now or contact us online.