Child Visitation Issues for Dads

physical custody, parenting time, and visitation for divorcing dads

Securing Parenting Time With Your Children in Your Divorce

If you are a dad who seems to be headed down the road to divorce, you're likely to be concerned about how your relationship with your children will be affected. You don't have to look far to hear horror stories about dads who feel that their roles as parents have been minimized following divorce or who are limited to spending time with their kids every other weekend. Since being a parent is so important to you, and because your kids need you to continue playing a closely involved role in their lives, you will want to fight to make sure you can be the father they deserve.

Even though many people believe that moms are favored over dads in divorce cases, this is becoming less and less true as state laws and family courts recognize that fathers play just as important a role as mothers in raising children. Unfortunately, it is inevitable that you will spend less time with your children following your divorce, since that is an unavoidable by-product of living in two homes. However, you should be able to maintain a consistent schedule in which you will be able to care for your kids and make sure that their day-to-day needs are met.

Physical Custody: Regular, Quality Time With Your Kids

When addressing custody of children by divorced parents, people usually refer to either legal custody or physical custody. While legal custody refers to the right to make major decisions about children's upbringing, physical custody addresses where children will live and which parent they will spend time with on a daily basis. Regardless of the decisions made about legal custody, when your children are in your physical custody, you will have the right to make decisions about the care you provide for them, their daily schedules and routines, the methods of discipline you use, and any other matters related to meeting their ongoing needs.

As with most divorce laws, the terminology used to describe physical custody can vary from state to state. In recent years, many states have moved away from naming one parent as the "custodial parent" and granting "visitation" to the other parent. Instead, state laws may refer to the time children spend with both parents as "parenting time," "physical placement," or other similar terms. This is a positive development for fathers, recognizing that dads are not "lesser" parents who only occasionally get to have temporary visits with their children. As a fully-involved parent who is ready and able to take care of your kids at all times, you deserve to spend as much time with them as possible following your divorce.

How Will Parenting Time Affect Child Support?

Dads often pay child support to moms after a divorce has been finalized, but not always, and the amount of time children will spend with each parent is often an important factor in determining the amount of child support payments. Depending on the laws in your state, the percentage of time you will have with your kids (that is, the number of days they stay overnight with you each year divided by 365) may be one of a variety of multipliers that affect the calculation of both your and your ex-spouse's child support obligations.

Unfortunately, because decisions about parenting time can have a financial impact on both parents, this can lead to contentious disputes during the divorce process. For instance, if you earn more income than your ex-spouse, she may fight for the majority of the physical custody to ensure that she can receive child support. On the other hand, if your ex earns a higher income, and you handle much of the child care, she may try to ensure that each of you have equal amounts of parenting time in order to avoid paying child support to you.

Protecting Your Parenting Time Rights

Even if you and your ex do not agree about how to divide custody of your kids, you should be able to maintain a relationship with your children that is similar to what you had during your marriage. You will want to show that you have played a primary role in caring for your kids throughout their lives and demonstrate that you can continue doing so after your divorce. By working with an experienced family law attorney, you can protect your parental rights and achieve an outcome to your divorce that allows you to be the great dad your kids deserve.

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