Turning Problems Into Solutions

How Rhode Island fathers can assert their parental rights

On Behalf of | May 1, 2023 | Family Law

Becoming a parent is one of the most exciting new endeavors that a person can undertake. They will get to watch as a helpless baby slowly develops into an autonomous person with their own preferences and quirks, and they will influence the person that child becomes.

The obligation to provide for a child can be a powerful motivator for people professionally, and children tend to change even someone’s household schedule. Once someone has children, they may start putting more focus on holidays and the weekends than they did before.

Many fathers feel uncertain about their rights, especially if they did not marry the mother of their children. They then fail to assert themselves and protect their relationship with their children. How does a father in Rhode Island make use of his parental rights?

He must establish paternity

Married fathers have a presumption of paternity that applies to any child born or conceived during the marital relationship. Unmarried fathers will actually need to officially notify the state of their relationship with the child.

Fathers either fill out paperwork by cooperating with the mother that will add their name to the birth certificate or they can go to family courts and request help establishing paternity. The judge can order a test that can establish a father’s genetic relationship to a child. Once a father has established paternity, he can then ask for other parental rights.

He must ask for parenting time

Separated or divorced fathers have the right to ask the courts to create a custody order at any point when they no longer live with their child. A judge can grant them time with their children and also potentially authority to have a say in the important decisions about their daily lives and upbringing. Once a father has established paternity, family law judges will typically agree that it would be in the best interest of the child if they spend time together and influence their upbringing.

Overall, the laws in Rhode Island are sex-neutral, which means they do not refer to men, women, mothers or fathers but instead to spouses and parents. Fathers in theory have the same basic rights and obligations as mothers, although they may sometimes need to take an extra step or two to make use of those rights. Learning more about Rhode Island’s custody was can help parents who want to preserve their relationships with their children.