When seeking visitation rights, a father must establish paternity and show that he satisfies child support obligations. However, the court may impose therapeutic supervised visits as a condition of allowing visitation for parents who are considered unsafe to be alone with their children.
Unmarried fathers must legally establish paternity and seek custody or timesharing through family court.
Ask for Visitation
Fathers who wish to have regular contact with their children must first seek court approval. The best way to do this is by hiring a family law attorney. Family law attorneys provide various legal services, including establishing paternity and drafting parenting plans. However, many fathers need help to hire an attorney to handle their cases. They must also pay hourly rates to their attorneys and the attorneys’ support staff, which can add up quickly.
Mediation is the simplest way to resolve custody and visitation disputes if a mother and father do not get along. If the parents cannot reach a mutually agreeable arrangement, they must have an attorney draft a parental plan. The plan will include a detailed schedule of when the child will be with each parent. It will also specify other essential aspects of the child’s life, such as which religion they will be raised in and what medical care they will receive.
Judges make custody and visitation decisions based on what they believe will be in the child’s best interests. For example, judges may award only supervised visitation if a parent poses a danger to the child, such as an extensive history of domestic violence or drug abuse. The child’s health and welfare are the priority for all parents.
A father can often arrange visitation rights by negotiating with the child’s mother. However, the mother can refuse visitation if she thinks it is not in the child’s best interests. The father needs a lawyer to help them through this process.
A Sisemore Law Firm lawyer will be able to help parents come up with a parenting plan that will account for their visitation rights. The lawyer can also review the plan to make sure it meets legal requirements and is in the child’s best interests.
When negotiating with your ex-partner, focus on the issues, not the person. It can be tempting to talk about how much you hate your ex, but this will make things more difficult during negotiations. Also, remember that the judge will hear both sides and can only decide based on the facts presented to them.
While there is a strong presumption that it is in the child’s best interests for non-custodial parents to have access to their children, if a court determines that it is not safe for the child to be alone with a parent, such as when allegations of abuse are made or if a parent has substance abuse or mental health issues-the judge can place restrictions on visits.
File a Petition
If parents cannot reach a visitation agreement, the father can request court-ordered rights. This can occur during a divorce, separation, or as part of a child custody suit. Courts may deny visitation rights if they believe it would harm the child, but this is rare. If a father has a history of domestic violence or other criminal conduct, it could affect the court’s decision.
A judge will review the case and approve a visitation schedule. This process can take time if the parents are unable to agree. The non-custodial parent must prove that a visitation arrangement will be in their best interests. This can be done by submitting a detailed parenting plan and supporting documentation.
The judge will also consider the non-custodial parent’s history of paying child support. However, the judge will not use this to deny visitation. The courts encourage stability for custody arrangements, so a change in visitation is possible only if there is a significant change in circumstances.
Fathers need to seek legal assistance when seeking visitation rights. Although it is not required, an attorney can help with all aspects of a case. Unbundled legal help can connect a father with an attorney who will provide various services depending on the client’s needs.
Attend a Court Hearing
A father can file for visitation rights as part of a divorce proceeding or petition the court after a divorce decree to establish custody or modify existing custody. Either way, the court will hold a hearing to listen to evidence from both parties and issue a ruling.
The court may refer parents to mediation or a child custody evaluator for help formulating a parenting plan. This is an excellent opportunity for parents to work together without fighting and resolve issues they cannot agree on. During these meetings, the child evaluator will observe visits and then write a report memorializing the quality of those visits for the court.
If the child evaluator determines that the father poses a risk of harm to the child, the court can limit or deny the father visitation rights. However, a court is unlikely to limit a father’s parental rights without clear and convincing evidence that the child would be in danger.
Whether you are pursuing custody or visitation rights, many legal steps must be taken, and the best results are often obtained by working with an attorney.