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Fathers: Don't let these missteps jeopardize your parental rights

Men who must navigate the family legal system in California are often in a very delicate situation. They struggle to find a balance between fighting for what they deserve and seeming too aggressive, and they may be tempted to give in to an ex to seem more flexible, even if doing so is not in their best interests.

While it can be difficult to know what to do in a particular situation without individual legal guidance, there are some things men -- and more specifically, fathers -- should always avoid when they are navigating the family legal system.

Not getting a paternity test

Men who do not get a paternity test can lose their relationship with their child when they split up with their child's mother if they have no legal rights to a child.

Unless you are married and have no questions about parentage, it can be critical that you examine your options for a paternity test sooner, rather than later.

Assuming the mother will get custody

It is true that courts traditionally favored mothers as primary caregivers by the courts. In recent years, however, there has been a dramatic shift in attitudes regarding parental capabilities and shared custody arrangements.

Rather than rely on assumptions, you can discuss your specific situation with an attorney to ensure you are working with accurate information and to build a solid case for yourself.

Letting your emotions get the best of you

Men can seem aggressive, domineering an inflexible for actions that might make a woman look strong, capable and confident. As such, it is important for men to be mindful of the way they express themselves in court, in mediation sessions and in interactions with an ex outside the legal settings.

Lashing out, yelling or making threats can be unwise, but that doesn't mean you always need to play nice or give in to an unreasonable ex, either. Instead, stop and think before you act, and work with your attorney to find effective legal means of pursuing what you want and responding to an ex.

Navigating family courts as a man can be very difficult and frustrating. However, with legal representation and an understanding of your rights, you can pursue a fair outcome to whatever issue you may be facing.

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