Unmarried fathers are often thought of as having the least amount of influence in the lives of their children. This is predominantly because, historically, it was the mother who was awarded custody when the couple parted ways. And it was the mother who was viewed as invaluable to the raising of the child. Thankfully, we now know that this is only half of the truth, as fathers are just as important in their children’s lives as mothers are, and fathers have rights to ensure that they aren’t lost in the shuffle.
In most cases, when one parent is awarded custody, it is the mother. But more and more fathers are petitioning the court for custody – either joint custody that they share with their child’s mother, or sole custody if they believe that the mother cannot properly care for their children.
In either instance, the court awards custody to the custodial parent, to be payed by the non-custodial parent. Which means that if a father has custody of the children, the court is just as likely to order the mother to pay child support.
It is important to note that if your are ordered to pay child support by the court, you must do so even if the custodial parent is interfering with your visitation schedule. As attorneys, we would advise you to seek legal counsel rather than try to take matters into your own hands during this type of situation – the legal backlash can be disastrous!
Unless the court has determined that one of the child’s parents are a danger to them, visitation will be awarded. This means that if a couple divorces, or ends their relationship, and only one parent gets custody of the children, the other parent is still entitled to be a part of their children’s lives.
It is to be expected that if there is a history of drug abuse, domestic violence, child abuse, or criminal activity in the home, that the court will restrict your access to your child. But outside of those scenarios, there is little the court will do to interfere with your relationship with your child. Which is a good thing, because parents have a fundamental right to parent their own children.
As a father, you are entitled to be a part of your child’s life, despite what your ex, or your child’s mother, may say to you. The decision to deny you visitation does not lie with her or her attorney. So if she has chosen to interfere with your visitation in any way, by changing the schedule to something incompatible with your availability in the hopes of reducing your contact, or denying you your court ordered visitation times, you have a legal right to report her activity to the court.
Join us next time, when we will be talking about the rights of unmarried fathers, and the issue of establishing custody rights as a father.