Every child deserves to have both parents playing an active role in their lives. As a father, your rights can be questioned in a number of different situations, whether you are going through a divorce, are already divorced, or were never married, you have a right to be a part of your child’s life.
First, you’ll need to know what your rights are as a father and how to fight for them. Retaining an attorney that is knowledgeable in father’s rights is key, however if you aren’t approaching the situation properly, you might destroy your chances even with an experienced father’s rights attorney in your corner.
As a father, the main issues you will face are child visitation (or parenting time), child custody (or allocation of parental responsibility), and child support. Understanding how all three of those work together is important when it comes to knowing how you should go about obtaining your father’s rights.
Child Custody Rights
In the past, mothers were more likely to win custody than fathers. Nowadays courts have begun realizing that the primary caregiver for the children does not always need to be the mom. The workforce today now consists of nearly as many women as men, therefore it is no longer the case that a stay-at-home mom is necessary for families. As a result, courts have opened their ideas to this and are granting custody to dads often.
Nearly every state has now begun rewriting their laws to state that both mothers and fathers have equal rights to decision making and parenting time with their children. In many states, the term ‘custody’ refers primarily to decision making for the child. This includes making decisions on schools, sports or extracurriculars, as well as healthcare. Child custody also determines which parent will have the primary decision-making ability for such things. The newly rewritten statutes and laws have changed to allocate both parents equal rights for this, as long as both parents are fit and able and have a history of making such decisions.
Fathers are also provided the same right to physical custody or parenting time as mothers. Both parents will need to make their case to the court properly to prove that the proposed parenting plan was created with the best interests of the child in mind. This is the primary threshold that most states require to award physical custody of a child to a parent — this means being able to provide the child with a stable, clean environment, and avoid making the common mistakes that have destroyed men’s custody battles over the decades.
Child Visitation Rights
Child visitation, sometimes called parenting time, is when your children spend time with the non-custodial parent. Fathers are able to seek this right and ask the court to make visitation as much or as little as possible if they have already lost the battle for physical custody. Of course, this won’t occur if the child is at risk of physical endangerment, if not, courts will allow liberal visitation rights in most states. The court system has realized that a father’s involvement in their children’s lives is important to how they will grow and develop. You will have to show that you have a clean home, proper sleeping arrangements, and free time to devote to your children in order to prove that you should be awarded more visitation and an equal amount of parenting time.
The courts have started to realize that parenting time with both parents is essential for children and that a case should begin from the position that each parent is entitled to equal parenting time with their child. From that starting point, the court will make an assessment considering all factors pertaining to what makes the most sense and is best for the children involved or whether one parent should have more parenting time with their children than the other. This means that your involvement in your child’s life will be looked at in detail– are you participating in their activities, attending their doctors’ appointments, maintaining a relationship with any of your child’s friend’s parents? These will all be essential and are sure to be discussed with the judge when it is time for your hearing. Be sure to get all your ducks in a row now.
Child Support Rights
Child support is typically paid to the parent who has the majority of the parenting time. In the event that this is the father, the mother will be responsible for paying child support given that the children primarily live with their dad. Some people assume that fathers are not allotted the right to ask for child support, but this is not the case. If the children are living with you, you should be receiving child support payments from the mother of those children because the money is used to support the child and their needs. The parent paying the support does not need to be afforded an itemized list of how the money was spent nor can they tell the primary parent what the money is to be used for.
As a father, if you are not the parent with majority parenting time then you will more than likely be ordered to pay child support based on either a percentage of your income, the needs of the child, or a formula that combines both parents’ incomes with the percentage of overnight visits with the child known as income shares. This varies from state to state so it is helpful for you to consult with a local child support attorney. These formulas can be quite confusing as it requires lawyers to use specific software to handle such calculations. Many fathers do not know that they can fight to have their child support payments reduced or that they can fight to lower some of the back child support that is owed which can potentially save them thousands.
Raising Children & Father’s Rights
Even when they are not the parent with the majority of parenting time, fathers deserve to have a say in how their children are raised. This includes having an opinion on healthcare decisions, the schools they will attend, and even extracurriculars. If the mother of your child is not allowing you to be involved in these things, you should seek counsel and go to the court to fight for your rights. It is worth the time and money to fight over the allocation of parental responsibilities and/or decision making. The judge will always prioritize the best interests of the child when making decisions for a child so be sure to keep track of everything and your involvement. Hiring an attorney to draft a parenting agreement is necessary as it will lay out all the details on how the children are to be raised and who has which responsibilities.
You have a right to be there for your children– and your children deserve to have you there. One of our attorneys at Helmer Somers Law can provide you with the information and tools you need to secure your rights.
Contact Us (859-371-0730) for a Consultation Today
About Helmer Somers Law
We are committed to helping families resolve their differences and get back to their lives. We help individuals and families fight for custody of children. We protect your rights as you go through divorce proceedings. We offer the guidance and support that you will need when you are involved with the legal system. We help clients with cases involving…
- Divorce and legal separation
- Child custody and visitation
- Child support and spousal support (alimony)
- Property division
- Domestic violence
- Grandparent rights
- And other related issues