Child Custody: Biological Father’s Rights (Part 2)
As mentioned in the last post to this blog, fathers’ rights pertaining to child custody are essentially the same as mothers’, but the father has more to prove in the way of parentage than she. Childbirth is an obvious fact; fatherhood isn’t.
In the previous post we looked at some hurdles a biological father has to overcome in his fight for child custody. We’ll continue that discussion now.
First, a biological father has the right (and, let’s face it, obligation) to provide ongoing financial support of the children. This right – in reality – reflects the children’s right to be supported financially by both parents. We mentioned in the last post that establishing paternity will simultaneously open the door to the biological father’s right to visitation, as well as his responsibility to support his children. There are many online child support calculators for estimating how much child support might be owed, depending on factors such as his employment, financial history, and the number of children the biological father supports.
Along these lines, there are some factors to consider: Once a parent has fallen behind on child support, it can be extremely difficult to catch up. Also, since child support and visitation are viewed differently by child support services, he should be able to continue regular visitations while attempting to pay off the debt.
Also, biological fathers have the right to maintain an ongoing relationship with their children. They have the right to keep in touch through phone calls and regular contact. Maintaining contact can be challenging, especially when the children are very young, and again as they grow into their teens and start to develop their own busy lives. It’s essential a biological father works with his children’s mother to establish an effective and fair routine for staying in touch with his children. It’s an essential element of the child custody question.
Some factors to consider are, if the biological father has been absent from his children’s lives for any length of time, it can be difficult to step back in and resume your role as dad. Also, he will likely need to regain his ex-wife’s trust by keeping being trustworthy and consistent about contacting the children, something that is particularly important on holidays and birthdays.
Speaking of keeping in touch, it is a biological father’s right to establish and maintain – with the collaboration of the ex-wife – a visitation schedule that serves the best interests of the children. When this schedule is mixed in with the regular family routine, life is easier on everyone. However, if he’s been an absent parent for a significant part of his children’s lives, it can be difficult to step back in and resume visitations. The familiarity has been lost, and the biological father should expect to have to regain his ex-wife’s and his children’s trust. Also, if he has lost visitation or child custody because of domestic violence or drug or alcohol abuse, he may need to agree to supervised visitations for a child support services-specified period of time.
Biological fathers that share legal custody of the children also have the right to make collaborative decisions with their ex-wives about the children’s education, religion, and medical care. It should be noted that before child support services grant joint legal custody, many want proof that both parents are able to collaborate and cooperate effectively on child raising decisions.