Divorced fathers have the right to do more than just pay child support.
Fathers do have rights in divorce and child custody that should not be overlooked. It is a fact that both biological parents have equal rights to seek custody and visitation in a divorce.
Men may be fearful of gender bias in courts when it comes to child custody and visitation settlements, but that shouldn’t prohibit fathers who want shared or primary custody, or even just fair visitation time, to fight for their rights.
Knowing a father’s rights in divorce and child custody are important for anyone going through divorce proceedings, but especially for fathers who don’t want to let their separation from their spouse also separate them from their children.
There must be established paternity in order for a biological father to have legal rights to his children, especially if the couple was unmarried when the child was born.
Paternity is not something that is determined only by the information listed on a birth certificate or the results of genetic testing; it can be determined in several ways. As is the case with divorcing parties, voluntarily assumed paternity can be recognized as legitimate by the court.
Voluntarily assumed paternity means that the father of a child is apparent due to the facts surrounding the birth. Was the child born in wedlock? If not, did the parents marry afterward? Did the father sign a legitimation form? Did a father legally adopted a child and have his name put on the birth certificate?
Once there is an established paternity, a father then has the legal rights to seek child visitation or custody rights. Paternity can also provide a father the legal right to be involved in decisions concerning the child and give the child financial support and the right to inherit.
Paternity laws can change and vary state to state, so be informed and know how to file for paternity in your state if needed to fight for visitation and custody in a divorce.
If divorcing parties cannot come to an agreement among themselves or with legal counsel concerning custody of their children, one or both parties can petition the court for help determining visitation and custody.
Fathers may assume that the mother has more legal rights to a child’s custody, but that is not the case. Courts make their decisions based on what they think will be best for the child and should not arbitrarily favor mothers over fathers.
This being said, one of the most important factors in determining custody is the level of parental involvement and the amount of time each parent spends with their children prior to the divorce. Unless the mother is determined unsafe or unfit, it is rare that a father will win sole custody of his children.
After a divorce is finalized, parents can petition the courts to modify custody or visitation arrangements. In some instances, usually in amicable divorces with shared custody, the courts may allow parents to change these arrangements among themselves. However, custody arrangement cannot be enforced legally unless they are made by a court order.
A father has the same rights to child visitation as the mother and should fight for his desired time with them in divorce proceedings.
It is usually assumed by the courts in making visitation decisions that the involvement of both parents will benefit the child unless there is evidence to the contrary, in which case visitation of one of the parties can be limited or denied altogether.
It is often the case, if the mother has primary custody of the children, that the father will let her determine and limit visitation on children with their father. Fathers have the equal right to fight for specific visitation and for a schedule determined by the courts and not by just the preference of the mother.
Divorce can be difficult for all involved, but always remember that all parties, spouses, attorneys, and courts, should keep the children’s best interest at heart when determining fair custody and visitation.
The website DadsDivorce provides many helpful resources to help fathers understand their rights in a divorce concerning child custody and visitation.