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divorce lawyer for dadsIssues affecting individuals who identify as transgender and non-binary have received extensive coverage lately in mainstream news and other media outlets. As researchers race to find out as much as possible about gender transitioning, children, with the support of their parents, are claiming to identify as transgender at younger and younger ages. Unfortunately, the tendency of this issue to become enmeshed in politics often obscures accurate information, preventing a thorough understanding of this complicated issue. 

For divorced parents of a child who claims to be transgender, this can present some tricky dilemmas. If your ex claims to support your child’s new identity, he or she may believe that there are necessary medical procedures or treatments. You may not agree with these treatments, and even believe them to be damaging or not well understood enough to be practiced on your child. Perhaps the situation is the exact opposite - maybe you believe your child is transgender and your ex does not agree. Whichever side of the debate you find yourself on, when it comes to your child’s health and wellbeing, you do not want to take chances. 

Can One Parent Allow a Child to Transition Their Gender? 

Parents who share custody often share decision-making responsibilities. This includes decisions about a child’s medical procedures, including common transgender treatments like hormones therapies and surgeries. If you share healthcare decision-making responsibilities about medical treatment with your ex, he or she cannot decide to allow or prevent your child to transition genders without your agreement. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1845670315.jpgIf you are a dad who is going through a divorce, you will understandably be concerned about your ability to spend time with your kids. While parents will be able to share legal custody of their children in most cases, physical custody (also known as visitation or parenting time) may not be divided equally. If your children will be living with their mother for the majority of the time, you will want to make the most of the time that you do have with your kids. You may also want to make sure that you will be able to have your kids stay with you at any times when their mother may be unavailable. To address these situations, you may want to make sure the right of first refusal is included in your parenting agreement or child custody order.

What Is the Right of First Refusal?

To ensure that your children will be able to have a parent caring for them whenever possible, you may agree to include provisions for the right of first refusal as you negotiate a parenting plan. As the term implies, these provisions will give a parent the right to assume care for children in situations where the other parent is unavailable. That is, if your ex cannot care for your children during days or times that they are scheduled to have parenting time, they must first contact you and offer you the opportunity to take the children during this time. They will only be able to make arrangements for having the children stay with others, such as a family member or babysitter, if you refuse the opportunity to care for the children during the time that the other parent is unavailable.

As you and the other parent determine how to address the right of first refusal in your parenting agreement, you will want to consider the following:

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parenting time lawyerIf you are a father who is going through a divorce, one of your primary concerns will be making sure you will be able to continue to spend time with your kids, maintain close relationships with them, and be as involved as possible in their lives. Even if you will not have primary custody of your children, you should be able to have regular parenting time. By understanding how the laws in your state address your rights to share custody of your children, you can make sure your divorce decree will meet your needs and allow you to have the relationship with your children that they deserve.

Protecting Fathers’ Rights to Visitation and Physical Custody

It is important to remember that as a parent, you have the same rights toward your children as your spouse. Neither mothers nor fathers are given preference in child custody cases, and the decisions made in family court are based on what is in the children’s best interests. This means that you should be able to maintain the same level of involvement in raising your children as you have had since they were born.

While the laws that affect child custody cases are different in each state, these laws generally will presume that parents are fit to care for their children unless there is evidence that shows otherwise. A parent’s right to share custody may be affected in cases where there are documented instances of domestic violence, substance abuse, or other issues affecting children’s health and safety. However, in most cases, dads will be considered to have the ability to care for their children and provide for their needs, and they will have the right to spend reasonable amounts of regular, ongoing parenting time with their kids.

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Interference with parenting time after divorce

As a divorced dad, your time with your kids is precious. While you were once a constant presence in their lives, this usually isn’t possible following divorce, because they will be dividing their time between you and their mom. Adjusting to new parenting schedules can sometimes be difficult, but once you have settled in to your post-divorce lives, you can get used to the new arrangements and make the most of the time you have together. Whether you and your ex share equal custody or not, your time with your kids will be limited, and you’ll want to make sure to address anything that would limit or take away that time. If your ex has deliberately withheld parenting time or otherwise interfered with your visitation, you should take immediate action to protect your parental rights and avoid causing harm to your children.

Interference With Parenting Time Is Illegal in Most Cases

Unfortunately, your relationship with your ex might not be especially rosy after your divorce. The two of you are likely still feeling the emotional fallout of your breakup, and even if you have done your best to put this conflict behind you, disputes may still flare up, leading either of you to attempt to hurt the other. One way ex-spouses may try to inflict harm is by refusing to allow their former partner to see their kids or otherwise interfering with their parenting time. 

While withholding of parenting time is sometimes overt, with one parent stating that the other parent is not allowed to see or spend time with the kids, interference with visitation is often much more subtle. Your ex may regularly be late when dropping off your kids, or she may invite herself along on outings with your children. She may regularly schedule children’s activities or appointments during your parenting time, or she may constantly be calling them or attempting to monitor your whereabouts and what you are doing. Regardless of how it happens, interference with parenting time is not acceptable, and you may need to take legal action to address it.

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Dads and child-related disputes during divorceThe divorce process is pretty rough for everyone, but it can be especially difficult for dads. No matter how involved you are in your kids’ lives, you’re probably going to feel like you’re at a disadvantage, since people tend to think of moms as the parents who are most focused on taking care of children. Fortunately, the divorce laws in most states recognize that both parents are equally important, and this means you should be able to share in the responsibility of raising your kids and have reasonable amounts of parenting time with them.

During your divorce, you and your ex will work to create a parenting agreement that will address all legal issues related to your children. If you can’t reach an agreement on some or all of these issues, your disputes may need to be settled in court, where a judge will make decisions for you based on what is in your kids’ best interests. To ensure that your parental rights will be protected when these decisions are made, you’ll want to take the following steps:

 

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