A divorce can be a very trying time, and many fathers simply do not realize they have certain rights concerning their children. They do not need a court order, nor is there a need to wait until the divorce is settled. Barring some type of legal issue prior to the divorce, a father cannot be kept from his children, regardless of what the mother feels about him individually.
Below you will find a list of rights for fathers during a divorce:
· Be Involved – this covers a lot of territory. You soon to be ex spouse cannot prevent you from making decisions concerning where the children will go to school, spending time with the children, attending and/or participating in extra-curricular activities, deciding medical care, religious beliefs, etc…
· Parenting – you have every right to make parental decisions for your children, especially when they are in your care. To avoid any problems, it may be best to sit down with the mother to establish ground rules, such as bedtime, discipline, and when homework is done, to avoid problems when the kids are in each other’s care.
· Harassment/Slander – both you and the mother must refrain from harassing the other while the children are in each other’s care. In addition, both the mother and father need to refrain from trying to prejudice the child’s opinion of the other parent by making slanderous statements.
While you have these rights, you also have duties as a father to ensure these rights remain intact:
· Support – as the father, it is your duty to provide physical, emotional, and financial support for the children. Keep track of all financial payments to ensure not supporting the children is used against you during the divorce and custody hearing. For instance, if you agree to buy school uniforms, keep the receipt to prove it was in fact you paying for these uniforms. You are also responsible to make sure the children have a roof over their head, food on the table, clothing on their back, and have a way to get to school. In some cases, it is best to have some type of financial agreement in place prior to the finalization of the divorce so this is not an issue as things progress.
· Positive Relationship – as mentioned above, while you have the right to a relationship free of harassment and slander from the mother, you must grant her the same courtesy. Do not use your time with the children to slant them towards you.
If your rights are being violated by the mother, it is best to contact an attorney right away to rectify the situation. Regardless of what she is doing or has done, you may make things worse if you try to handle them on your own. For more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our divorce attorneys, please contact us today.