Realizing that your marriage is over can be a very difficult time. However, that does not mean that because you are losing your spouse you deserve to lose your rights as a father as well. Fathers need to protect their visitation rights during this time. Above all else, the children need to have stability and not feel as though this is their fault.
In many cases, the mother is awarded custody of the children during divorce proceedings unless she willingly leaves the home during separation. If this is the case, you still have rights regarding the children and you are still able to fight for full custody during the actual divorce proceedings.
Assuming the mother has custody during the divorce proceedings, she will more or less dictate the schedule of the children. However, even though she has control of the schedule, it does not permit her the right to purposely create conflictions that violate your visitation rights.
As the father, you have certain rights during your visitation hours. These rights are:
• Spend time with your children during the appointed and agreed upon hours
• Schedule activities during your visitation hours, such as attending a ball game
• Freedom from the mother’s interference, threats, or impositions during your visitation time
• Prevent the mother from moving out-of-state by filing an injunction
• Contact local police if the mother is preventing you from seeing your children during your appointed visitation times
If any of these rights are violated or the mother has changed the agreed terms without your knowledge, you can file to modify the divorce decree to have these terms nullified. For example, she decides that weekends no longer work for her schedule and dictates your weekend custody will now be Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.
If there are problems concerning your visitation rights, do not make the mistake of taking these matters into your own hands, as this will only hurt your case with the courts. For instance, stopping child support payments until she agrees to change the days in question. Another example would be if you verbally abuse her or tell the children negative things about the mother to try to sway their opinion of her. You need to take the more mature approach and let your attorney handle these problems legally or risk losing your visitation rights.
This can be a very trying time, which is why you should seek the help of an experienced divorce attorney, especially when it comes to the custody of children. If you are experiencing problems with your soon to be ex wife, document the situation and inform your attorney. It will give you a much better chance of winning your case once it lands in court.