On Sunday, June 19th we will be celebrating Father’s Day, a holiday that can be extremely difficult for a family going through a divorce. In the past, it was unfortunately assumed that when parents divorced, a father gave up his legal rights and guardianship to his children, which is heartbreaking for any father. In honor of this approaching holiday, we just want to make sure that every father going through a divorce knows his rights and is prepared in the fight for custody and guardianship.
A father’s battle for custody can be particularly difficult. As we mentioned, historically Mothers were granted the benefit of the doubt when it came to their children’s guardianship and well being. Because of this, fathers are often forced to have to defend their rights as a parent in order to be issued visitation and joint custody by the court. It is important for a father to have legal rights in their child’s custody, and even when there is a mutual agreement about visitation, a father needs to have in writing the terms of the agreement to keep the legal ability to protect their children, keep guardianship, and be able to make important decisions involving education decisions, medical care and religious upbringing. If a mother has sole custody, a father forfeits his legal guardianship and puts his relationship with his children in the hands of his ex-spouse. If the relationship is civil and understanding, these limitations may have less of an impact, but when worse comes to worst, the father still has no legal role in the lives of his children.
The important thing for a divorcing father to always keep in mind is that every child has a right to a relationship with both of their parents, whether they are married or not. In most jurisdictions these days, it is becoming the norm to rule in favor of joint custody and without cause there is usually no reason for a father to give up any of their custodial rights to their children. However, it is sometimes the case that a mother may file for sole custody, thus requiring the father to defend his rights as a parent.
Here are a few things for a father to keep in mind if he finds himself in a custody fight:
- Take precautions to protect your parenting rights from the beginning stages of the divorce. Don’t wait until the situation worsens before perusing legal action to secure partial custody. Even divorcing couples with a good relationship should take legal action in drawing up an agreement, or else all hope may be lost if the relationship falls apart in the future.
- Find an attorney who is skilled in handling divorce and custody cases. Not only that, but look for a lawyer you can trust. Custody battles can often become lengthy, trying times and in that case you will need someone to help keep your interests at heart and be willing and ready to devote their time to helping you keep your children.
- Also look for an attorney who is skilled in both litigation and mediation, so that they can help direct the divorce in the best path for your family. Every situation is different, so each divorce may need a different procedure in order to come to a settlement either in a mediation room or courtroom. Let your attorney help develop a plan to retain as much of your familial relationship as possible.
- Most importantly, approach this issue with patience, compassion and an unrelenting nature. Children are the most important thing in a father’s life and in the case of custody there needs to me a large measure of compassion for one’s children as well as a passionate desire to do the right thing for your kids. Divorce can be a very difficult time for children and it is important to put self interest aside and focus on being the best father you can be which does not include sacrificing the parental rights.
If you are in the San Diego, Del Mar or Oceanside area and are concerned about your potential custody situation, call The Edmunds Law Firm today. We have over 33 years of experience in helping fathers retain custody of their children. Call today to set up an appointment for a free case analysis, orfill out our contact form on the website to get started.