Child Custody Issues for Divorcing Dads

legal custody for divorcing fathers

Addressing Legal Custody of Your Children During Divorce

If your marriage has fallen apart, and you're staring down the barrel of divorce, you may be dreading the difficult times that are likely ahead of you. Separating yourself from your spouse is no easy task, and you're going to need to address a multitude of issues related to your finances, property, living situation, and much more. However, if you're a parent, your number one concern is probably going to be your children, and you're going to want to do everything you can to make sure you can continue to play a primary role in raising them, even if you and their mother are no longer together.

Whether you're getting ready for a nasty custody battle or expect to be able to work together with your ex as co-parents of your children, you will want to be sure to understand the legal issues involved in your case. By working with a divorce attorney, you can familiarize yourself with your state's child custody laws and take steps to protect your parental rights throughout your divorce and beyond.

Legal Custody: The Right to Be the Dad Your Kids Deserve

Depending on the state where you live, the laws may use different terminology to address custody of children, but they usually differentiate between legal custody and physical custody. Physical custody refers to where children will live, and it is sometimes called parenting time, visitation, or physical placement. Legal custody, on the other hand, refers to the right to make decisions about how your children will be raised.

Different state laws may call legal custody "the allocation of parental responsibilities," "conservatorship," or some other similar term. Regardless of the legal language used, this form of custody is all about the major decisions that parents make for their children. A father who has legal custody will be able to make key choices about his children's education, healthcare, religion, and other significant issues.

Most states prefer to have parents share legal custody of children rather than granting sole custody to one parent, although there are cases when sole custody may be appropriate, such as those involving abuse, neglect, or child abandonment. As part of your divorce settlement, you will need to create a parenting agreement that will define how the two of you will share the rights, responsibilities, and decision-making involved in raising your children. This agreement can set down the rules you will follow as parents while addressing issues such as the ways you will work together to make decisions and how you will keep each other informed about child-related issues. It can also function as a helpful framework for your relationship going forward, offering you peace of mind that you will be able to remain closely involved in your kids' lives, no matter what happens.

Working Together For the Benefit of Your Children

While it might seem hard to believe when you're going through the difficult divorce process, you and your ex can work together as co-parents in the years to come. If you do your best to put your children's needs first, you can be ready to share responsibility for making the big decisions that will ensure that they can grow up happy and healthy.

No matter how you approach your divorce or the level of conflict you expect to have, you will want to work with an experienced family law attorney. Your lawyer can advise you of your rights as a father, help you meet your legal requirements during the divorce process, and work with you to make sure your parenting agreement will meet your family's needs. By having a legal advocate on your side, you can come out of your divorce with the tools that will allow you to be the great dad your kids deserve.

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