Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fathers Custody Rights - How To Enforce Your Visitation Rights

By Elmo Cook

If you and your spouse are getting divorced or separated and there are kids involved the most important task ahead of you is to decide on issues such as custody and visitation. Divorce breaks the bonds between husband and wife, custody splits the bonds of parenting. It is imperative for to remember that every child has a right to a continuing relationship with each parent.

Although the trend is changing, it is the case that the typical judicial attitude towards custody usually favors women. For whatever reason, it has been the precedence set in the past and traditionally many judges find it difficult to change their ways. However, with the changing of socio-economic structure of contemporary society, fathers are beginning to have a greater parenting role. In the case of where the father has visitation rights, it is very importantthat these rights are not interfered with.

In an ideal situation parents cooperate to see that the kids spend a maximum amount of time with each parent. Unfortunately, all too often this ends up with very little visitation time with the non-custodial parent, and lots of angry disputes about cancelled visits and last minute delays. To avoid such problems, numerous judges now prefer the parties to work out a rather detailed custody schedule (known as a parenting plan or parenting agreement) which consists of a specific visitation schedule and also specifies who has responsibility for both the daily decisions and major decisions concerning the welfare of the children.

If your parenting plan has already been recognised by the courts then your visitation rights are protected by law and can be enforced by the court. Although it is reasonable that there may be various times that visitation time might need to be adapted, such as sickness, appointments, special occasions etc. regular interference with visitation may even be used as an argument that there is a change in circumstances which can lead to a modification of the custody schedule. In some states it can even be grounds for giving custody to the parent who has had their visitation rights interfered with.

Visitation schedules are often established as a test period. Neither parent knows how the relationship with each child may change and develop. In some cases parents modify the parenting plan without going to court as the needs of the child change over time. But if one parent then goes back on the terms of the agreement, it may be difficult for the other parent to enforce the modified agreement because it hasn't been ratified by the court. So it is generally advisable to obtain court approval when modifying custody or visitation terms.

As a non custodial parent, your visitation schedule should contain in detail the times and days that you are allowed to spend time with your children. Most states consider it a crime to interfere with custody and visitation rights. This crime is commonly referred to as "custodial interference." Depending on the state, parents can actually sue the other person for damages if their custody rights are interfered with, as well as get help from law enforcement.

Often, a father stops paying child support in retaliation for the mother interfering with his visitation rights. Custody and visitation should not be confused with child support. Regardless of how your visitation rights are interfered with, you must always pay child support. You may face heavy penalties for failing to meet your obligations. Each and every parent must support their children.

One major study revealed a significant link between custody and visitation arrangements, the amount of antagonism between parents and the payment of court-ordered child support. Fathers tended to continue paying child support when they spent regular and frequent time with their children, including daytime and overnight stays. , the less likely they were to keep paying child support.

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