Visitation Rights for a Father After Divorce

    Every father has a right to see his children following a divorce.  Visitation is a term for the time a parent spends with his child when the other parent has physical custody (the child primarily lives with the other parent). The term “visitation” has been replaced with the term “parenting time” because visitation implies that a father is not parenting the child, rather simply visiting the child, which demeans the role of the parent as well as the relationship with the child. Most laws are worded to protect the child’s right to have time with both parents rather than the parent’s right to be with kids.

    A Father’s Parenting Time Varies for Every Family

    Every child has a right to know, and spend time with, his dad. Unless there has been a history of abuse (physical or emotional) the court will establish parenting time (visitation) for a father who does not have physical custody of his child.  A father’s parenting time will vary based on the situation of the family and based on the historical roles each parent played before the divorce. A father who was involved in the care and nurturing of the child when the child was young will likely have more parenting time than a father who was not involved in the care of the children.

    Most states recognize the important role a father plays in a child’s life and establish laws accordingly, so all fathers who want to have a role in their child’s life will be able to do so. Parenting time can take place on almost any schedule. A father who lives near the child’s custodial home might have parenting time every other weekend, or even on some school nights.  Fathers who live out of state can have parenting time in the summer for example, or on school breaks for a week at a time. Every family can determine what schedule works best for their particular situation. If parents cannot agree on a schedule, the court will determine a schedule for the parents based on criteria established in the state’s laws.

    Every Child has a Right to a Relationship with his Father

    Even a father who has a criminal history will be allowed to spend time with his child as long as the court feels there is no threat to the child. A father who is suspected of being a threat to his child, or who has a history of drug or alcohol abuse may have supervised parenting time. Supervised parenting time is ordered in only rare cases.  Supervised parenting time typically takes place in a neutral location such as a park, a museum, or a therapist’s office/playroom. The supervisor is usually a trained social worker who can merely observe the parenting time or who can aid in building a healthy relationship between the father and child.

    Courts encourage fathers to remain in contact with their children. The option to arrange supervised parenting time under extreme circumstances makes it possible for every father, regardless of history or situation should be allowed visitation (parenting time) with his child.

    Getting Legal Help

    An experienced family law attorney can help you get the parenting time and schedule that works best for you. Negotiating a parenting time schedule is best handled by someone who does not have an emotional interest at stake. An attorney can help you make child-based decisions in scheduling and can also work with your spouse or her attorney in creating the best schedule for everyone.

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