To get a fair shake in proceedings, it’s key to understand your fathers’ rights following separation.
Not every relationship works out. When a couple decides to split up and go their separate ways, dividing things like possessions, money, and assets can be easy or it can be difficult, depending on what needs to be split up and how reasonable each person is inclined to be. However, when the couple has children, things are almost always more complicated, even if everyone involved is acting in good faith.
Most parents don’t want to lose any time with their children if they can help it, and it can be difficult to find a compromise with someone who you no longer want to have a relationship with. Separation periods can be especially tricky. Many couples have some type of separation period before they actually get divorced.
In fact, some states require that couples be separated for a certain amount of time before a divorce can be finalized. And even in states that don’t have that requirement, many couples separate while they attempt counseling, consider their options, or save money for the divorce proceedings.
Whatever the reason for a separation, couples may be confused about their parental rights during the separation period. Fathers’ rights are especially likely to be questioned in this situation. Take a look at what you need to know about fathers’ rights following a separation.
Know and Understand Your Fathers’ Rights Following Separation
The first thing that you need to know about parental rights during a separation period is that until there’s a court order in place, or until one parent voluntarily gives up their rights, both parents have equal rights to spend time with their children. It’s true!
Fathers who are married at the time of their child’s birth (or adoption) are presumed to be the legal father of the child, with all the attendant parental rights. Unmarried fathers who separate from their child’s other parent may have to take the extra step of proving paternity, but once that is accomplished, they also have equal rights to the mother until and unless a judge says otherwise.
Many fathers believe that courts are biased against fathers, or they believe that children need their mothers more than their fathers. Either of these beliefs can cause a father to question whether they really have the same right to parent their children as the mother, and may cause them to give up on pursuing their parental rights.
But if you look at the outcomes of family court cases, mothers don’t wind up with the children more often because the courts are biased against fathers’ rights – mothers wind up with custody of the children because fathers and mothers agree to that arrangement at some point during the divorce process.
Very few custody cases go all the way through to a judgment from the family court judge – most are settled with an agreement between the parents somewhere along the way. And there’s definitely evidence that outcomes for children are better when both parents are involved in their lives, so the idea that children need their mothers more is also a mistaken idea.
Your Fathers’ Rights to Child Custody and Visitation
If you and your child’s other parent are separated and don’t yet have a formal custody agreement in place, you can file a petition with the family court for a temporary child custody ruling that will stay in place until the divorce and permanent custody can be finalized.
Keep in mind that temporary custody arrangements can often become permanent. Family court judges are most interested in finding solutions that are in the best interests of the child involved, and that means that they don’t want to unnecessarily disrupt a child’s life and routine unless there’s a good reason.
Thus, it’s important to get a temporary custody order that acknowledges your parental rights and gives you the time that you need with your children because there’s a good chance that the permanent order will look a lot like the temporary order.
You should thoroughly maintain your visitation schedule throughout the entire duration of separation, as well as any time when you ask for visitation or arrive for your scheduled parenting time and your ex does not allow you to see your children.
If your ex is preventing you from spending time with your children, you can request that the court grant you more parenting time or even primary custody. It’s also important to make sure that you’re punctual when scheduled to spend time with your children. It’s hard to argue that you deserve more time with your children when you’re not wisely using the time you currently have.
Try to maintain a cordial relationship with your ex. If what you want is a fair joint custody arrangement, everything will be easier if your ex wants the same thing. Plus, the two of you may not plan on being a couple anymore, but you’ll remain co-parents and you’ll need to be able to communicate about your child. So being polite and civil is in everybody’s best interest.
Don’t assume that you won’t be able to get equal time with your children, or even primary custody if that’s what you want and if that’s what you think will be best for your children. Just because other divorces you know of didn’t work out that way doesn’t mean that yours can’t. Your best bet is to follow through on mediation or family court until you get a custody order. Giving up early can only hurt your case and chances.
You don’t necessarily need an expensive lawyer in order to get the custody agreement that you want. However, you do need to have an understanding of the laws surrounding custody and divorce in your area, as well as courtroom procedures.
A legal resource group like National Family Solutions can help you learn what you need to know and prepare to present your case in court, without the high costs that come with hiring an attorney.