Even in our modern times, there is a lot of confusion about men’s parental rights. It’s often difficult for society to shed old ways of thinking, and people often assume that women are favored in family law.
Unfortunately, this assumption can still be true. Family court judges often have a reputation for favoring one side over the other, regardless of the specifics.
Fathers have fundamental rights that cannot and should not be ignored. Even if you are up against a stubborn judge, you should be able to rely on the law to overcome a judge’s base assumptions.
Here are some rights that you have as a father.
The Right to Child Custody and Visitation
Quite simply, you have the right to see your kids. Whether you get full custody, joint custody, or just visitation depends on the details of your parenting plan. A judge, however, cannot simply block you from your kids without a good reason.
Reasons You Could Be Blocked
The court does have room to label a parent “unfit.” This happens when that parent poses a direct danger to their kids.
The criteria for an unfit parent include:
- Addiction issues
- Inability to care for the children
- Abuse, neglect, or abandonment
When someone accuses you of being unfit, they must prove their case in court. You also have the right to defend yourself against these accusations. Make sure to hire a good attorney who can counter these unfounded claims.
Custody vs. Visitation
Both custody and visitation allow you to be with your children. The difference is in the length of time and amount of responsibility.
Custody is having the kids for an extended period. During this time, you are the “custodial” parent, and you are responsible for the kids’ nutrition, health, hygiene, and so forth. Even if you have the children for only one weekend a month, this is considered custody.
Visitation is a specifically scheduled time you have with the kids. You may be alone with them, but you are expected to return them to the custodial parent.
Electronic visitation is a viable option for fathers. This is a planned, scheduled time where you can call, video chat, and so on. These visits are just as valid as in-person visits, and the other parent cannot block them.
The Right to Include Children in Your Benefits
As a father, you can put your children on your insurance plan. Military members also have many programs that benefit their immediate families, children included. Children are also automatic recipients of your estate when you pass, even if you don’t have a will.
The Right to Pay Child Support
Child support should not be viewed as a burden. It is an opportunity to directly contribute to your child’s welfare. The other parent cannot block these payments, and they cannot use the money for themselves.
Your Fathers’ Rights are Permanent
To repeat, you have parental rights as long as you are deemed “fit” to parent. If you care enough to read this article, you are probably a good man and a good father, so it’s unlikely you will ever face an unfitness claim.
If you have not done so, you must establish paternity right away. Being a biological father does not necessarily make you a legal father. You must officially file for paternity to receive this recognition. Contact an attorney if you need help with this process. Once you gain paternity, you will be the child’s legal father for life.
If you are concerned about your rights as a dad, our firm is here to help. Just call us at (803) 938-4952 or contact us online for assistance.