Fathers' Child Custody Rights
State laws prohibit gender discrimination in custody cases
Did you know that most states have laws in place the state the gender of a parent shall not be considered to be a factor in custody cases?
Unfortunately, some men may feel that the court is automatically going to side with the mother and often reluctantly agree to parenting plans and custody schedules that diminish some of their parental rights.
As a father, you are still a parent and you have as much parental rights to your children as their mother does (until a court says otherwise).
The key to keeping your parental rights is to fight for them, even if the judge is some backwoods "good old boys" with an unfair preference of granting custody to mothers. They are your kids too and you have the right to raise them and be active in their lives.
Your children need you in their lives.
As their father, you provide an important and necessary role in helping your children develop and mature. This doesn't change if you separate from their mother.
Studies have shown that children with fathers who are actively involved in their lives:
- Are more likely to be successful in their education
- Are less likely to experience depression
- Are less likely to exhibit disruptive behavior
- Are less likely to lie and be dishonest
- Are more likely to have better self-esteem
- Are more likely to avoid drugs and alcohol
Fathers are very important to the health and well-being of their children.
Unfortunately, fathers are often overlooked in custody situations, and there are too many good fathers who don't get enough time with their children.
They get a few visits a month with an occasional overnight and the mother gets the children the rest of the time.
Don't let this happen to you. You need to stand up for your paternal rights so that you can spend more time with your children and be a parent to them, not a "visitor".
There are two types of custody:
Legal custody pertains to the authority to make important decisions (medical, educational, etc.) regarding your children. Most parents share legal custody.
Physical custody refers to the actual care and residence of the children.
When both parents are able to actively participate in the physical care of their children and they share the children in a manner than allows them both frequent and ongoing contact with the children, this is called joint physical custody. You don't have to divide their time equally to share joint custody.
When the children live with only one parent and that parent is the one who takes care of them most of the time, it is called sole custody. In that case, the other parent may have visitation with the children.
There are a few reasons why one parent might be given sole custody. If the other parent does drugs, has an unsafe home, is abusive, is neglectful, is unwilling to take the children, is absent, etc. Another reason some parents are given sole custody is because the other parent agreed to it.
If you are a good parent, there is no reason why you shouldn't be able to get joint custody. You just need to ask for it and demand it if you have to.
On that note, it makes no sense to try to get sole custody of your children for yourself unless the mother is a bad parent and you need to protect your children from her.
When deciding what type of custody you want, you should consider the situation and what is best for your children.
As a father, you are entitled to custody of your children just as much as their mother is. Unfortunately, despite the laws that prevent gender discrimination, it seems that mothers get custody more often than fathers do.
Courts make decisions based on what is in the best interests of the children. When judges make decisions in custody cases, they consider all of the factors relevant to the care and well-being of a child.
One of the factors the court considers is which parent has served as the child's primary caregiver. The courts do not want to yank a child away from the parent who has been the most significant person in the child's life.
However, just because your children's mother may have served as the children's primary caregiver doesn't mean that you did not play an active an important role in the child's life.
Let your ex-wife and the judge know that these are your children and you want to remain actively involved in their lives.
In order to get the time you want with your kids, you need to be proactive and prepared.
You shouldn't expect or depend on the children's mother to divide the children's time fairly between you. Instead, you may have to fight for that right.
You need to stay on top of things and be ready for anything that comes up, such as meetings with your ex, making a custody agreement, attending mediation, and appearing in court.
This is where Custody X Change can help. Custody X Change allows you to be actively involved in your child custody case by letting you make a complete parenting plan on your computer.
With Custody X Change, you can create a complete parenting agreement that has:
- A repeating custody and visitation cycle
- A holiday schedule
- Provisions for vacation time
- Scheduling for special events
- Provisions and stipulations about parenting
- Time-share percentage reports
- Overnight percentage calculations
- Reports with your agreement in custody terms
When you create your custody agreement with Custody X Change, you simply follow the steps in each section of the program and the result is a professional document that is clear and concise.
Custody X Change covers everything you will need to include in you plan, so you don't have to worry about leaving anything out. You can add anything in that you would like if there is something you wish to include in your parenting plan that is not already addressed by the software.
Before you begin making your custody schedule, you will want to consider your own availability. It doesn't make any sense to schedule time with your children when you aren't going to be able to spend time with them. Be sure to think about work and other obligations that will prevent you from spending time with your kids.
Since you are creating your own custody schedule, you will have the flexibility to make it the way you want. It doesn't have to be as stringent as "this is my day, this is your day".
Assuming you have joint custody and their primary residence is with their mother, here are some creative ways to spend more time with your kids:
- Transport your children to or from school. If this is something that is feasible for you, you could offer to transport them every day or even just a few days a week.
- Pick your children up from daycare. If you get off work before your ex does, you may want to suggest that you pick them up from daycare and she can pick them up from your house, instead. It makes no sense to pay for daycare when a parent is available.
- Have dinner with your children. Choose one or two set days during each week that the kids will come to your house after school (or after you are off work). You can help them with their homework, eat together, and get them back to their mother in plenty of time to get ready for bed.
- Don't allow large gaps between parenting time. If you alternate weekends your ex, be sure to get a few days around her weekend to spend with the kids. For example, if she has them over the weekend, schedule them to be with you the next Monday (and maybe Tuesday). You will want to make sure you are able to spend plenty of time with them.
- Use school breaks to your advantage. When school is out, it is a lot easier to spend more time with your kids. You may want to give yourself more parenting time during school breaks and take advantage of their convenience.
- Include a first right of refusal clause in your parenting plan. This means that both parents will agree to contact the other and offer additional parenting time before calling someone else for childcare. This gives both of you the opportunity to spend more time with your kids if one of you needs a baby-sitter.
With Custody X Change, you can block out any increment of time for parenting time with your kids, so it is really easy to schedule and keep track of the time you want to have them. You don't have to settle for being an "every other weekend" kind of dad if you are willing to stand up and ask for more.
Once you have completed your parenting plan and custody schedule, you will need to get your ex-wife to agree to it. Courts generally adopt parenting plans that parents agree to but getting your ex to agree to your plan may not be that easy.
Print out a copy of your proposed parenting plan and ask her to review it and to let you know what she thinks. She can make notes on the document regarding what she agrees to and what she would like to change.
Once she returns the parenting plan to you, you should look over her notes and consider her revisions. Then you can make some quick and easy edits and if you disagree with any of the things she wants changed, you can try to think of a compromise to suggest to her.
You can keep working with the document until you are unable to agree on anything else.
Then, you can present your proposed parenting plan to the mediator or judge. Let the mediator or judge know which sections you have agreed on and highlight the sections that you need help reaching an agreement on.
You can ask the judge or mediator to accept the rest of your plan and let them know that you want to be a parent to your children, not just a visitor.