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divorced dad child custody lawyerIf you are a father who is going through a divorce, or if you are unmarried and separated from your children’s other parent, issues related to the custody of your children are likely to be at the top of your mind. In our modern culture, dads are more and more likely to be closely involved in raising their kids, and in some cases, fathers may even act as stay-at-home parents or be the one who is most involved in caring for their children and meeting their needs. If this is true in your situation, or if you believe that restrictions should apply to child custody to protect your children, you may be wondering whether it will be possible for you to be granted sole custody of your kids.

When Is Sole Custody Appropriate?

While the specific laws that apply to child custody vary from state to state, most of the time, courts prefer for both parents to be closely involved in raising their children. Because of this, parents will usually share joint custody. In cases involving joint legal custody, parents will share the responsibility of making decisions about how the children will be raised. In cases involving joint physical custody, children will spend parenting time with each parent.

If the court does choose to award sole custody to one parent, it will usually be for one of the following reasons:

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divorced dad child custody lawyerAs divorced parents, you and your ex may not see eye to eye on a variety of issues, including those related to your children’s health and the medical care they receive. Vaccinations are one issue that can sometimes cause disputes. While the ongoing rollout of COVID-19 vaccines is currently the most prominent example, parents may also need to address the standard immunizations that children receive. If you and your ex disagree about whether your children should be vaccinated, you will want to understand your rights and the steps that you may need to take to resolve this issue.

Parental Responsibility for Health Care Decisions

Most of the time, divorced parents will share legal custody of their children. This means they will both have the right and responsibility to make decisions related to issues such as the education and medical care the children will receive. However, in some cases, one parent may have sole or primary responsibility when it comes to decisions about the children’s medical needs. In these situations, that parent will usually have the final say about whether children will be vaccinated, although the other parent may take legal action to address this issue if they believe their children’s health and well-being are at risk.

If you and your ex have equal responsibility in medical decisions for your children and you disagree about vaccinations, you may be able to work these issues out between yourselves and reach a decision about what would be best for your children. However, if you cannot reach an agreement, you may need to go to court and ask a judge to make a decision on the issue. In these cases, a judge may consider a variety of factors, such as testimony from medical experts about whether children should or should not be vaccinated, the parents’ religious beliefs, and each parent’s level of involvement in addressing their children’s medical issues.

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parenting time for divorced dadsIf you’re a dad who is going through a divorce, you’re likely to be worried about spending less time with your kids. Unfortunately, this is an issue that is going to be unavoidable, since the time that your children spend with one parent is time that they won’t be with the other parent. You’ll need to adjust to not being with your kids every day, but you’ll also want to make sure you can spend time with them at every available opportunity. One way you can do so is by making sure your parenting agreement includes a “right of first refusal” clause.

What Is the Right of First Refusal?

Your parenting agreement will include detailed information about when your children will spend parenting time with you and your ex-spouse. A daily schedule will specify the days and times when your kids will be with each parent, and your agreement will also cover holidays, school vacations, and any other days where you will deviate from the normal schedule. However, there may be some days when either you or your ex will not be able to have parenting time with your kids as scheduled. These situations may be addressed by including a “right of first refusal” in your agreement.

The right of first refusal is a clause stating that when one parent will be unable to provide care for your children during their scheduled parenting time, they will be required to contact the other parent and see if they are available to watch the children before making other arrangements, such as hiring a babysitter or having kids stay with relatives. Essentially, the other parent will be given the first opportunity to have their children stay with them, and other arrangements can only be made if the parent refuses to take the children during that time.

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dad's divorce law domestic violenceIf you are a devoted father, there are few things worse than being accused of committing violence or abuse against your spouse or children. In some cases, these types of claims can arise out of misunderstandings or arguments that get out of control, but sadly, there are many situations when a spouse or a current or former partner accuses a father of domestic violence in an attempt to gain an advantage in a child custody dispute. If you are facing accusations of domestic violence or abuse, you will want to do the following:

Follow the Court’s Orders

If your children’s other parent has obtained an emergency restraining order or order of protection against you, it is important to follow all of the requirements and restrictions in the order. Even if the order was based on false accusations, you will be required to follow all of its terms while it is in effect. Even though it may be difficult, you may need to move out of your home temporarily, and you may be unable to see or communicate with your children until these matters are resolved. If you violate a protective order, you could face criminal charges, as well as additional restrictions that affect your parental rights.

Gather Evidence to Support Your Side of the Story

As you prepare to defend yourself against accusations that you have committed domestic violence or abuse, you’ll want to gather as much evidence as possible to explain what actually happened and show that you are not a danger to your children. You may be able to provide an alibi to show that you were not present at the date and time the abuse allegedly occurred, or copies of communication with your children’s other parent may show that they have behaved unreasonably in the past. If necessary, you can provide records related to treatment for mental health or substance abuse issues, and you can obtain statements from friends or family members regarding your character and fitness as a parent. If child protective services are looking into claims of abuse, you will want to cooperate with them, provide any information they request, and follow their recommendations.

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dad's divorce and child custody attorneyWhen it comes to divorce, many dads worry that they face an uphill battle. Culturally, mothers are often considered to be the parents who are most concerned with childcare and household responsibilities. This means that even when a dad plays an equal role in raising his children, he may need to fight against the assumption the mother should have primary custody. To make matters worse, a father may worry that he will be considered a deadbeat due to his absence from his children’s lives.

Whether you are currently going through the divorce process or have completed your divorce, you’ll want to make sure that you can continue to be the father your children deserve. The last thing you want is for your children to feel that you are not there when they need you. To avoid the possibility of being considered a deadbeat dad, you’ll want to do the following:

  • Pay child support on time - The most common reason that dads are labeled deadbeats is that they don’t pay child support as required. Even if you think that it’s unfair that a large percentage of your income will be going to your ex, remember that the money is being used to provide for your kids’ needs. If you don’t pay child support on time or in full, you will still be required to pay the full amount owed, along with interest on late payments. Failure to pay child support could also cause you to be held in contempt of court, which could lead to a variety of consequences, including time in prison. If you have lost your job or experienced other financial issues that affect your ability to pay, you’ll want to bring this matter to the court’s attention immediately to ensure that you won’t be penalized.

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