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In lawsuits involving the dissolution of families, each parent or interested party usually has his or her own legal representation. More often than not, child custody and parental rights are determined as part of a typical divorce, and are handled by divorce lawyers. Sometimes, particularly in highly contentious situations or very complex struggles, other nuanced family lawyers play a role. Father’s rights advocates are one example. Father’s rights advocates are lawyers who are family lawyers in one sense, but who have built their practice specifically around representing fathers and fighting for fathers' rights to their children.
In every trial system in the world, it is a lawyer’s main job to act as a zealous advocate for the client’s case, fighting for the client’s best interest and seeking justice at every turn. In some sense, lawyers representing fathers in any number of disputes are by default father’s rights advocates. Some lawyers specifically market themselves as father’s rights advocates, however. These lawyers typically only take clients who are fathers with specific custody struggles, and have defined their practice as one catering exclusively to fathers and would-be fathers.
The primary goal of father’s rights advocates is outcome-based. They want to see their client, the father, enjoying his paternal rights. A father’s custody rights — his rights to visit, parent, and interact with his children as they grow — is one of the most fundamental rights a father has. A father’s rights advocate makes it his main job to defend those rights before the law.
Depending on when retained, the advocate will walk the client-father through every step of any appropriate legal proceedings. The advocate will assist with filing the initial complaint, if necessary, and can help answer divorce petitions. The advocate also typically acts as the lead negotiator for drafting child custody agreements, child support contracts, and parenting plans. Most of the cases the advocates handle involve divorces, but really any case that involves a child and a father seeking rights is a good candidate for a father’s rights advocate. Father’s rights advocates must, therefore, be skilled in any number of family law matters.
Many communities sponsor father’s rights organizations to help promote fathers’ involvement in the raising of their children. These organizations are often focused on helping fathers be a part of their children’s lives, but they also often promote the legal rights of fathers, whether through presentations, coaching, tutorials, or referrals. Many father’s rights advocates find clients within these and similar organizations, as well as through word-of-mouth recommendations and traditional advertisements.
@Pippinwhite -- Tell me about it. I have a friend whose 11-year-old daughter is with her mother, but her mother doesn't want to honor the custody agreement half the time, and is trying to soak him for all this back day care money, which was never spent to start with, since she never went to day care.
He has a good lawyer, but not unlimited money. You wouldn't believe the amount of paperwork he has filed to have his parental rights recognized. He's a great dad. I keep telling him the day will come when his daughter can choose the parent she wants to live with, and she's going to choose him. I have no doubt of this. Her mother is a vindictive nut job. It's sad.
One reason father's rights advocates are so necessary is because some judges just sort of automatically default to the mother, even if she is not a truly fit parent, and will not instruct her to spend the child support on the child, will not alter custody arrangements, etc.
A father's rights advocate will intervene on behalf of the father to make sure the child support payments are fair, for instance, and that the mother does not have sole "ownership" of the child, so to speak.
The advocate will do everything to make sure the father has a fair share in the child's life. It can be a thankless job.
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