All the social science research indicates that children experience the best outcomes in life when both parents are involved in their lives. Unfortunately, there are some outdated beliefs in the court system that continue to allow the mistreatment of fathers in custody cases — even though this is technically against the law in New Mexico. If you are going through a divorce or custody negotiation, you need a Santa Fe family law attorney who is experienced and knowledgeable in protecting father’s rights. That is what we offer at the Law Office of Dorene A. Kuffer.
Family Courts and Father’s Rights
Let’s get one thing out of the way up front: There is no such thing as a “Father’s Rights Attorney.” You cannot go to law school and specialize in “father’s rights” as a legal profession. All family law attorneys study the same things under New Mexico law, such as divorce cases, custody arrangements, alimony, separation agreements and so on.
Yet everyone knows exactly what is meant when they hear the term, “Father’s Rights Attorney.” It’s an attorney who will fight ‘tooth and nail’ for a father’s rights in custody battles before a court system that inherently favors mothers (a stereotype we’ll address in a moment).
One thing you should understand is that mothers and fathers are considered inherently equal in the eyes of the law in New Mexico. In custody cases, the courts and attorneys are supposed to view both parties as complete equals, with the same rights and responsibilities. So long as there are no abuse issues or criminal history in the marriage, both parties are to be treated equally and fairly.
This wasn’t always the case, however. For many decades, a legal precedent called the “tender years doctrine” dictated custody cases — and it was inherently unfair to fathers. The tender years doctrine held that young children fared better when the mothers had sole custody of them after divorce. The entertainment industry has caused a misconception that this doctrine is still the law of the land, but it’s not. Fathers have just as much legal right to be a part of their children’s lives as mothers do.
Despite the fact that New Mexico statutes now consider mothers and fathers “equal,” there are still a lot of attorneys and even judges in the system who still seem to believe in the tender years doctrine. This is why the attorneys at the Law Office of Dorene A. Kuffer fight so hard for our clients who are fathers — we believe you have equal rights, and we will fight for the best outcome for your children and your family situation.
How Fathers Can Improve Their Odds
You will need to prove to the court that your custody proposal is in the best interest of your children. This means that the more involved you are in your children’s lives, the more likely you are to succeed in custody negotiations. It’s also healthier and better for your children if you are an active parent.
Many couples see that they are headed toward a divorce long before any paperwork is filed. If you know your marriage is in trouble or if you are separated from your spouse, now is the time to become even more active in the lives of your children. This will make an impact on custody negotiations.
It means spending as much time being a father as you can. Help your kids with their homework. Read with them, play with them, drop them off and pick them up from school, attend every parent-teacher conference, and so on. If you behave as a “weekend father” with your kids, the courts will probably treat you as a weekend father when it comes to custody arrangements. Your best chance of securing a 50-50 custody arrangement with your spouse is to be a 50-50 parent ahead of time!
Other Things You Should Know About Father’s Rights
There are a lot of misconceptions about the rights and responsibilities of parents when it comes to custody arrangements. The only way to truly inform yourself of all these issues is by hiring a family law attorney who can explain all of your rights.
For example, many people don’t realize that child custody and child support payments are completely separate issues in the eyes of the court. If you are behind on child support payments, your spouse cannot deny you access to your children under any circumstances. (If she does try this, contact us immediately!)
We have produced some additional resources about fathers’ rights in divorce and custody cases, and we invite you to read these to be better informed on the laws in New Mexico:
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Contact a Family Law Attorney Who Understands Father’s Rights
If you are going through a divorce or child custody case in the Santa Fe area, call the Law Office of Dorene A. Kuffer today to schedule a consultation. Our family law attorneys understand father’s rights in custody cases and will fight for the best outcome for your family situation. You can reach our office to schedule your first consultation at 505-924-1000.