When parents separate, the issues of custody, support, and visitation with the children can be complicated and stressful for everyone, including (often especially) the children. It is important for fathers to know what their rights are as parents and to fight for those rights if there is any opposition to your ability to exercise them.
Many people believe that avoiding any disagreements or difficulties with the other parent is actually better for the children. It is true that children benefit when there is less stress and discord between their parents, but that doesn’t mean that you should give up on your rights as a father just because it might save you the stress of what may be an uphill battle with your ex. You should do everything in your power to keep your relationship with your ex as cordial and agreeable as possible, but you should not let anyone take away your rights as a father.
Your children need you now, as much as they ever did; and you may need an attorney to ensure that your rights to them and their rights to you are protected. Call Remington & Dixon, PLLC to schedule a free consultation and learn how we can help.
What Fathers Need to Know About Child Custody Rights
For a long time, the courts have favored the mother when it comes to who gets custody of the children in a divorce. This has discouraged many fathers from even trying to get joint custody or full custody of their children, since it was fairly clear that they wouldn’t win.
Today, however, things are different; and it is entirely possible for a father to get full custody or joint custody of his children. If the children’s best interests lie within your home and custody, then a North Carolina family law attorney can help you to establish this in court.
Ultimately, you simply have to have a safe and happy home for the children. If the mother is equally fit as a custodial parent, then joint custody might be in the family’s best interests.
What Fathers Need to Know About Visitation Rights
The goal of the family court system in North Carolina is to ensure that children get as much time with their parents as possible. If you do not have primary physical custody of your children, then you can seek as much parenting time or visitation time as you want.
As long as you can provide a safe and happy home for your children when they are in your care, there is very little reason for the courts to deny you the visitation that you want, and you can often get very liberal visitation arrangements.
Having said that, visitation will also be based on the regular schedule of the children to ensure that the child’s best interests are truly served. If the child will be able to attend the same school, engage in the same activities and receive the best of your time while at your home, this will help your case when you are seeking as much visitation as possible.
What Fathers Need to Know About Child Support Rights
In most cases, the custodial parent should receive child support from the non-custodial parent. This is equally true if the custodial parent is the father, in which case, the mother would be expected to pay child support. It is a common misconception that fathers should not receive child support even when they have physical custody. The reality is that the children are supposed to benefit from the support of both parents regardless of their particular custody arrangement.
It is also worthwhile to seek the representation of an attorney if you are the non-custodial parent to ensure that you are paying a fair amount of child support based on your income and the children’s needs. A lot of fathers end up paying far too much in child support because they don’t know that they have a right to representation in this matter.
What if Your Child Doesn’t Want to Visit You?
Sometimes, children fight the court-ordered visitation. They don’t want to leave their home with their mother to visit their father or vice versa. While this is sometimes caused by one parent badmouthing the other – which is completely inappropriate and detrimental to the child – it is also likely that the child simply doesn’t want to leave the familiarity of their custodial home, or that they don’t want to leave behind their toys, their routines, and their friends.
The reasons for this kind of response from a child to visitation can also vary by age. A younger child might be unsure whether or not they will be returned to their other beloved parent, or they might be upset at having their routines changed, for example. An older child might be more focused on how visitation affects their social life, for another example. If some time has passed between the last time that you saw your children, or if there was a lot of emotional stress during the separation and/or legal proceedings, then the child or children may still be upset or even fearful of change. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to make things easier on you and your children, and it will get better if you make the effort.
For starters, if your child resists visitation, try not to let it hurt your feelings. The best thing you can do is to try to make the experience fun. You should plan activities and outings that will interest your child and make the visitation something to look forward to.
It is best to ensure that the child does have the parenting time, even if they resist and express a desire to stay with the custodial parent instead. Enforcing parenting time is important for the long term wellbeing of your child, even if he or she doesn’t see it that way at the moment.
A North Carolina Family Law Attorney Can Help
Whatever your concerns are regarding your rights as a father in North Carolina, the experienced North Carolina family law attorneys at Remington & Dixon, PLLC can help. Call us today to schedule a free consultation and discuss the options available to you and the best path forward. The longer you wait, the more challenging it will be to exercise your rights. Don’t hesitate to stand up for the best interests of your children, which include having you as an active parent.
Jennifer is a founding partner at Remington & Dixon, PLLC. Jennifer concentrates her practice in the areas of family law, wills & estates, unemployment benefits appeals, and traffic. At Elon University School of Law, Jennifer was the vice president of the Public Interest Law Society and a member of the Family Law Society. During law school, Jennifer interned at the Elon University School of Law Field Placement Clinic with Legal Aid of North Carolina where she represented clients in domestic violence court proceedings.