Father’s Rights in New Hampshire


As the father of a child in New Hampshire, you are entitled to certain rights. A man must be legally established to be the father in order to be awarded parental rights as well as responsibilities. In some cases, if the father has not been providing child support the court may order him to do so. Additionally, a father has the right to see his child. Even those who are not the biological father of a child may still be held responsible for their care under the law in certain circumstances. The first step is to get immediate help and support from a qualified New Hampshire family law attorney. A father should be able to support his child both financially and emotionally. Your lawyer will be able to answer any questions you may have about your rights as a father.
Establishing Paternity
The first thing that must occur in order to maintain your rights as a father is to establish paternity. Paternity can be established through one of two main methods. The father may sign an Affidavit of Paternity at the time of birth (or reasonably soon thereafter). If an affidavit is signed the paternity is legally established and no further testing is required. A paternity test is the most common method of determining paternity. This is DNA testing that can be done at the request of the mother, father, or NH Department of Health and Human Services. If you are married to the child’s mother it is generally assumed that you are the father. If later you determine you are not the father you will need to prove this in court. Even then, you may still be under obligation to provide for the child. The law is complex in this area so if you are in need of answers it is best to discuss your case with a qualified New Hampshire family law attorney.
Child Support
In New Hampshire, as elsewhere, the non-residential parent (non-custodial) usually is responsible for payment of child support. Child support is the money paid for the regular living expenses of the child such as food, clothing, and shelter. There is a mathematical formula used for determining how much child support should be paid. There are many determining factors that may be included in the determination but mainly the amount of money that the parents make is used as a basis for child support. Other expenses must also be paid for children. Children need to be covered by a medical insurance plan, which may be provided by one of the parents. Other costs may come up as well such as educational costs, dental expenses, and counseling to name just a few. Parents are both responsible for paying all the expenses that are required for the care of their children until the age of 18.
Parenting Plan
New Hampshire requires parents to create a parenting plan that then becomes an order of the court. A parenting plan is a comprehensive document that outlines the responsibilities of each parent. It should include several features including such things as physical custody, legal custody, and decision making responsibilities. Additionally, the parenting plan should include a parenting schedule that indicates visitation on a regular basis as well as for holidays, vacations, and birthdays. Another part of the parenting plan should address issues of relocation. If one of the parents wants to relocate outside of the immediate area, the plan should discuss how this will be handled. If disputes arise, the parenting plan should provide a basis for how to deal with these types of disagreements. Once a parenting plan is made part of a court order it cannot be changed except with a modification through the courts.
Visitation
Fathers have the legal right to visit with their children. This can be a difficult situation, especially when the parents have never lived together. It is important to remember that both parents have a right to see their children and visitation is not based on the payment of child support. If a parent is unable to properly care for a child, the court will review the information and determine whether that parent should be allowed visits. In some cases, the court may order supervised visitation. This is visitation that is allowed only with another person that has been approved by the court. Visitation is part of the parenting plan and is commonly made on a weekly basis. However, you can choose the best visitation plan that works in your situation.
Unmarried Couples
The legal system has been built around married and divorced couples. However, in today’s world, many couples with children have never been married to each other. This provides for some unique circumstances. Since unmarried couples do not go through a divorce process they are not part of the laws that govern this situation. Unwed custody cases are becoming more common. It is essential to know that unwed parents still have the same rights as parents who were married. Choose an experienced New Hampshire family law attorney to assist you in making sure that your parental rights are protected.
Parental Laws
There is a statute in New Hampshire that was enacted to provide guidance as to how to address issues that relate to parents and children. This is called the “Parental Rights and Responsibilities” statute. This statute encourages parents to share the responsibilities of parenting.  A parenting plan should be developed between parents to address these responsibilities. If assistance is needed your attorney will be available to help guide you through the process. The courts will always do what is in the best interest of the child. If a parent is unable to provide a safe environment the court will not permit the child to be exposed to it. The courts will review important information about each parent in order to make certain that the child is protected. Your attorney will review your special case to help determine how to proceed and to answer any questions you may have in the difficult process of maintaining your parental rights.