Father's Rights in Child Custody
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What Are a Father's Rights in Child Custody?
In any child custody hearing, the father of the child has certain rights and obligations. The most important of these rights are those involving child custody and visitation schedules. With regards to the father’s obligations, the main consideration is the obligation to support the child in every aspect, both socially and financially.
How Is Child Custody Determined?
Child custody is not immediately granted to one parent, but is decided based on the “child’s best interest standard.” This means that any custody determination should serve to further the child’s development and prevent any unnecessary interruptions in their upbringing.
Therefore the father has the right to have the court consider their position as sole custodian. However, the right to sole custody is not a guaranteed right for either parent.
In some situations the father may have greater earning capacity, but a court will consider other custody factors, such as the child’s emotional attachment to either parent. For example, if the father has been abusive in the past, it can undermine their right to custody, even if they are financially more established than the mother.
What Are a Father’s Rights with Regards to Visitation?
Again, court-issued visitation schedules are created in line with the child’s best interests.
When determining custody, a judge will consider the father’s visitation rights at the same time. These visitation rights may include the father’s right to:
- Visit the child or children at the appointed dates and hours
- Plan, schedule, and perform activities with the children during their allotted visitation times
- Be free from the control of the other parent during visitation dates
- Consult with the police or other authorities if the mother has violated visitation agreements
- Obtain an injunction which prevents the mother from relocating the child in a way that disrupts visitation
- Petition for a modification of visitation and custody orders
It is important that the father of the children report any instances where the mother has disregarded a custody or visitation order. Official reports such as a police report can be used in future proceedings where the court order needs to be modified by the judge.
What Obligations Does a Father Have in Relation to Child Custody?
In contrast to a father’s custody rights are their legal obligations to the child and the child’s mother. Unless the judge determines otherwise, the father is usually obligated to:
- Provide alimony (spousal support) and child support as ordered by the judge
- Respect custody orders and court-issued visitation schedules and obey them in a non-disruptive manner
- Continue to provide the child with an atmosphere suitable for their upbringing- this means cooperating with the child’s mother and stepfather/stepsiblings, if any
If the father fails to fulfill their legal obligations towards their children, it could negatively affect their custody or visitation rights. For example, if the father attempts to visit the child when they are not supposed to, it could lead to a modification of visitation rights.
Finally, the father should not disregard their obligations simply because the mother chooses not to cooperate with court orders. It is not wise to resort to threats of harm in dealing with the other parent. Instead, any misconduct should be reported to the judge who can then prescribe the appropriate remedy under custody laws.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Issues with Child Custody Rights?
Coping with child custody issues is difficult for all the persons involved. However, you should understand how a father’s rights in child custody will affect the outcome of a proceeding. If you feel that your rights a parent have not been fully met, you may wish to consult with a family lawyer for advice. It is also helpful to contact an attorney before custody hearings begin, so that they can advise you before and during the court hearings.
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Last Modified: 05-13-2014 11:10 AM PDT
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