When you are talking about divorce processes in the United States, both parents are granted equal legal rights pertaining to the matters of the children. Fathers and mothers are both given the same opportunity for a child’s visitation until either of the parents gives up or is denied full custody rights.
However, most fathers often feel as though they are not given the same legal rights to child custody or parenting time. Whenever you find yourself in this situation, it is highly advisable to seek legal assistance from an experienced family law attorney.
Obtaining Physical and Legal Custody Rights
Firstly, what are Legal custody rights?
These are legal rights given to a parent to make decisions regarding the child’s education, moral upbringing, and medical care. Once you are granted the legal custody rights, you will get decide where the child would be schooling or daycare, the type of health services that are required for the child’s medical care and what sort of upbringing would be suitable for the child.
But how do the courts determine who gets the child custody rights?
As per verywellfamily, in divorce proceedings, the issue of who gets the child is very complicated, however, the judges will have to examine a wide variety of factors before granting child custody to either of the parents. To determine the best interest of the child, the court will have to consider:
- The age and gender of the child
- The capacity of both parents to provide a good and loving environment for the child
- The ability of either of the parents requesting for a child’s custody to meet the child’s basic needs.
- The age and character, including the mental and physical health of both parents
- If there are any existing emotional ties between both parents and the child
- Whether granting the child’s custody will affect the child’s sense of home and security
- Whether both parents agree on the visitation terms which should be in the best interest of the child
- Any evidence of child abuse or negligence
- If the child is old enough to make decisions
The court will have to inspect these following factors before jumping into any conclusion. At most cases, the child custody is equally shared between both parents, however, most American states award the father with custody of the child after divorce.
The physical custody of a child
Physical custody of the child mainly deals with the physical care and instant guardianship of the child. This custody determines where the child will reside. Will the child live with both parents, spending an equal amount of time at each house, or will the child live with either of the parents, visiting the other at a certain period of time in a year or week? This generally depends on the physical supervision of the child, considering where the child will stay, when the child goes to school and who will be the one to physically look after the child.
In a situation where the child is a teenager, the child could decide on where he or she would want to stay and this can automatically affect the visitation rights of the father. One parent can have both the legal and physical custody, while the other may have the visitation rights, but doesn’t have any custodial rights and therefore cannot make decisions affecting the welfare of the child.
My Visitation Rights as a father
As a father, you are entitled to so many rights after divorce. Here are some of the entitlements established by the divorce decree;
- Visiting your child during fixed hours
- Planning and making preparations for the activities to be done during visitation hours
- Not allowing the mother to threaten or deprive you of visiting your child during visitation hours
- Calling the police if you feel your visitation rights have been violated and acquiring police reports as proof to be shown in court later on
- Acquiring an injunction if the mother decided to take the child somewhere far (E.g. traveling to a different state etc.)
- Ask for modifications of the divorce decree (if the mother changes the visitation rights without your approval)
According to Online Divorce, these visitation rights are granted to all fathers after a divorce and they are binding.
Limitations To My Visitation Rights
Receiving your rights isn’t done immediately, the court will have to consider a variety of factors before granting a father the rights to visiting his child.
When there is evidence of child abuse or domestic violence on your part as a father to the child, then the court will have to limit those visitation rights or disallow you from exercising those rights. Your mental and psychological health would be checked too. Those factors in which the judges will use to determine the custody of the child have already been mentioned.
This content is sponsored by Tommy Murphy.