Dads, Kids, and Divorce

divorce, child custody, and child support for fathers

Child Custody, Parenting Time, and Other Legal Issues Fathers Must Deal With

In today's society, it can often seem like fathers don't get fair treatment, especially when it comes to divorce. We've all seen how divorced dads are usually portrayed on TV and in the movies, where they only spend time with their kids infrequently, don't know what is going on in their lives, and don't understand how to take care of them. For many modern fathers, this is pretty insulting, and it couldn't be farther from the truth.

As a father, you have an important role in your children's lives, and you will want to maintain a close relationship with them, no matter what happens. After years of changing diapers, preparing meals, helping with homework, providing transportation, attending games or recitals, coaching teams, and countless other fatherly duties, you will not want this to change just because your marriage is ending.

Unfortunately, it can often seem like you're fighting an uphill battle during your divorce. Since mothers are often seen as the parents who provide the majority of the care for children, it can seem like the legal system is biased toward them. However, in recent years, state laws and family court judges have begun to recognize that fathers play just as important a role in kids' lives and that they should be afforded the same rights as mothers during divorce. By educating yourself on the law and working with an attorney, you can be prepared to address issues related to your children, ensuring that you can continue to be the dad they deserve.

Addressing Legal Issues Involving Your Children

Depending on the state where you live, the divorce laws may use different terminology, and different factors may be considered when making decisions about children. However, the primary concern in these cases will always be protecting your children's best interests. As a father, you will need to demonstrate that you have been involved in your kids' lives and that you can meet their ongoing needs.

During your divorce, you will need to address a variety of child-related issues, including:

  • Child Custody - Depending on state laws, the right to make decisions about your children may be referred to as "legal custody," or it may be called the "allocation of parental responsibilities." This typically refers to how you and your ex-spouse will share the authority to decide how your children will be raised, and it may address issues such as education, medical care, or religion.
  • Visitation - Sometimes called "physical custody," "physical placement," or "parenting time," this refers to the time children spend in the care of each parent. Your kids deserve to have quality time with you, and you will want to make sure to have a well-defined schedule for exactly what days and times you will spend with them, including on a daily or weekly basis, as well as on holidays, school vacations, or special days such as birthdays.
  • Child Support - While it is often assumed that dads will pay child support to moms, this is not always the case. Depending on state laws, factors such as the income earned by both you and your ex-spouse and the amount of time your children will spend with each parent may play a role in determining the amount of child support payments for each parent and how other child-related expenses will be handled.
  • Child Relocation - During your divorce, either you or your ex-spouse will likely be moving to a new home, and you may both need to relocate again at some point in the years to come. If you are planning to make a significant move, or if you object to a move by your ex that would affect your relationship with your children, you may need to address these issues in court.
  • Parental Alienation - One of the biggest concerns dads may have during divorce is the possibility that their spouse is trying to turn their kids against them or win children over to their side in hopes of gaining an advantage in child custody disputes. If you suspect that your ex is trying to harm your relationship with your kids, you'll want to take immediate legal action. This will not only ensure that you can protect your parental rights, but it can help you minimize the emotional harm your ex inflicts on your children.

Determining the best way to resolve these issues can seem like a massive and complicated series of tasks, which is why it is best to work with an attorney from the beginning of the divorce process. If you are on good enough terms with your ex, you may be able to negotiate a parenting agreement that will allow you to work together as co-parents going forward. However, this is not always possible, and in some cases, you may need to fight for your parental rights in court. Whether you expect your divorce to be civil and friendly or hostile and full of conflict, having an experienced divorce lawyer on your side will ensure that you can reach an outcome that will allow you to continue to be the father your children deserve.

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