As a father caring deeply for your children, the first step in understanding your legal rights is to become informed and educated. By reading this article, you are taking a first step in the right direction. The benefits in becoming educated about your legal rights could influence your access to your children, emotional health, and financial security for the rest of your lifetime.
As a divorced father, the three most important parts of the legal process you will deal with are child custody rights, child visitation rights, and child support payments. This article will outline the best ways you can deal with these three important legal processes and stand up for yourself throughout the entire process.
As a single and divorced father, perhaps you don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on an attorney. The economy is rough, and even upper-middle class professionals are feeling the burn. Consider using a legal document preparation service to save money and stand up for your rights as a father. Believe it or not, back in 2006, about 49% of petitioners in Utah decided to be self-representing litigants. Legal document preparation services are a great, affordable solution for clients able to educate themselves throughout the process.
To deal with child custody rights, you first need to understand the state laws affecting your situation. For example, recently family laws in Florida were changed to allow for an equal “time-sharing process” between divorced mothers and fathers so that fathers can have more access to their children. A simple search on the Internet for “child custody rights” can yield the differing laws within each state and how they impact you. If you are a pro se litigant, meaning you are representing yourself in court, then make a list of the required documents you need to file for your child custody rights.
To continue with an explanation of obtaining child custody, if you are the primary caregiver for your children, then make sure to be incredibly detailed in filling out the necessary forms dealing with child custody. Every state requires different forms, as well as a different number of forms. For example, the state of Florida requires six separate forms for filing only for child custody, whereas Michigan only requires a single packet. It is your job to determine how many forms you need to fill out for the state you are filing for child custody within. You can access free divorce forms at www.freedivorceforms.net and www.edivorcepapers.com. Historically, fathers have been at a disadvantage throughout the litigation process for child custody. Thus, it pays to be serious and organized throughout this process.
The second part of the litigation process to consider deals with your child visitation rights. This part goes along with child custody rights, but again, the laws are different for each state. Because states are recognizing that fathers need greater rights and access to their children, many states have amended or are in the process of amending their fathers’ rights laws. Child visitation rights involve the same work and research as understanding your child custody rights. For this part of the process, if you are having trouble sifting through it, do not consult the clerk’s office at your local courthouse. Instead, consult with fathers’ rights organizations, the law library at the courthouse, or a law library at a local law school. Clerks are not meant to help litigants, but there is no need to worry. Organizations like www.fathersrightsinc.com, www.fathersrights.org, and the Men’s Center at www.themenscenter.com exist to solely help you. These organizations understand the complexities and tediousness of the legal process for fathers and will be a great asset for you.
The last and very important aspect of the litigation process for fathers is determining child support. I can not stress enough how much fathers need to be astute during this part of the legal process. Filling out one form with the wrong amount, or not accurately defining your expenses, can mean that you have to pay much more than is required. Understand, that some courts, such as those in Florida, will not consider the expenses you pay for your children such as extracurricular fees. Those dance lessons or horse-back riding lessons will not be considered for one second by courts, so stop paying these immediately if you are taking your spouse to court over rights for your children. While you should be serious and detailed in this part of the process, you should also know that you can file a child support modification order in some states at any time after the court has made an order. If you lose your job, then do not wait to file a child support modification order, because the court does not pay for retroactive child support payments.
Ultimately, as a father you are doing the right thing in being educated about this process to the best of your ability. If you are having troubles, however, then it may behoove you to pay an attorney to represent you in court and help file the necessary legal documents. You need to stand up for your rights as a father, because when it comes down to it, no one else will fight for your rights except you.