Many types of cases unfold in the family court system. If you face any type of legal matter involving your marriage, your children, or extended family members, the case will likely proceed through family court. Unfortunately, fathers have generally felt disadvantaged in family court proceedings over the past several decades, especially in divorce and child custody cases.
Long-standing biased beliefs have influenced family court decisions against many fathers over the years. For example, many fathers lost custody of their children in divorce simply because they believed fathers should be breadwinners and mothers should be caregivers. Attitudes regarding parental roles have shifted dramatically in recent years. However, many fathers still face bias in the family court system and often feel isolated as they approach the preliminary stages of their cases.
If you are a father bracing for any type of family law case, it’s essential to understand your rights and the value of legal counsel as your case begins to unfold. The following are some of the most common questions fathers have about the family court system. Review these questions and their answers as you prepare for your family court case.
Q: Can Fathers Win Child Custody?
A: While in the past, many fathers faced biased decisions in child custody disputes, today’s family court judges throughout the US recognize that fathers can be just as capable parents as mothers and that a child’s best interests, not outdated beliefs, should dictate child custody rights. Fathers can secure custody rights of their children as long as they can prove they are fit parents. Judges who decide custody cases must evaluate numerous factors to determine what type of custody arrangement would best suit the children in these cases.
Q: Do Fathers Always Pay Child Support?
A: Child support determinations reflect their associated child custody determinations. When a judge decides custody rights in a divorce between married parents or a custody dispute between unmarried parents, they must evaluate multiple details to determine what type of custody arrangement would best suit the child’s best interests. Once they have decided on the best custody arrangement for the child, child support will hinge on the difference in income between the parents and each parent’s custody rights. If one parent obtains a more significant share of physical custody than the other, it’s likely for the other parent to be required to pay child support.
Q: Does a Father Need Legal Representation in Family Court?
A: Anyone preparing for a family court case should have reliable and experienced legal counsel on their side. An experienced family law attorney can have a tremendously positive influence on the outcome of any family court case. Fathers who feel inherently disadvantaged in their cases should seek legal representation. Once they find a lawyer they can trust, they will likely realize they are on more equal footing than they initially realized. In addition, a good attorney can improve a father’s experience with the family court system in many ways.
Q: What Do I Do If My Co-parent Tries to Turn My Kids Against Me?
A: Unfortunately, some parents preparing for divorces and child custody determinations will attempt to turn their children against their other parents. When they do this, they ultimately deteriorate their own relationships with their kids. If you are involved in an ongoing custody dispute or divorce and believe your co-parent has tried to sway your children against you or unfairly smear you as an incapable parent, notify your attorney about your concerns as soon as possible.
Q: Will I Lose Half My Property in Divorce?
A: Many people mistakenly assume that divorce means sacrificing half of your assets to your spouse, but this isn’t how property division works in most divorce cases. While nine US states enforce community property laws that require a 50/50 division of marital property, all other US states enforce an equitable distribution law that requires the fairest possible division of marital assets. Therefore, you will be allowed to keep any separate property you own. In addition, all marital property and debts will be divided as fairly as possible under the equitable distribution standard used throughout most of the Midwestern US.
Q: My Child’s Mother Is Denying Me Visitation. What Should I Do?
A: No parent can ignore the terms and conditions of a lawful family court order. If you have a custody and visitation agreement with your child’s other parent, you are both required to abide by the terms of the order. If your co-parent has denied you the ability to exercise your custody or visitation rights, you can file contempt proceedings against them to compel compliance with your family court order. If you are unsure how to proceed in this type of situation, contact a family law attorney as soon as possible.
Q: My Circumstances Have Changed Suddenly. Can I Change My Family Court Order?
A: The modification process allows any party subject to a family court order to petition for reasonable changes to their order in response to unexpected life events. If you need to request a change to your custody rights, your support obligations, or any other aspect of a standing family court order, you must file a petition for modification with the family court. A hearing will be scheduled, and you will have the opportunity to speak on the issue before a judge. The other parties beholden to the family court order can also speak on the issue. If the judge determines your requested change is necessary and reasonable, they can immediately grant the petition for modification.
Hopefully, these questions and answers will clarify some of the misconceptions and misinformation that perpetuates about the family court systems of the US. However, every family law case is unique, and it’s essential to have legal counsel you can trust when you are facing a divorce, child custody dispute, or any other family law matter. Reach out to an experienced fathers’ rights attorney if you are bracing for a complex case in the family court system to secure the legal representation and support you need.