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Visitation Rights for Fathers

Visitation Rights for Fathers

Visitation rights refer to the rights of the non-custodial father to meet his children. Most state laws in America provide equal visitation rights to both the parents and do not discriminate on the basis of gender.
Medha Godbole
Last Updated: Jun 3, 2018
37.9% of divorced or separated fathers have no access or visitation rights. - Census Bureau, September 1991
Visitation or time sharing is the time scheduled for a noncustodial parent to spend with his/her child or children. Unless the father specifically relents to wave some of his rights or his rights are restricted by the decree of the court, he has the same parental rights as the other parent. Visitation rights can also be denied by the court, if it finds that such visitations will not be in the best interest of the child.
In the case, Troxel v. Granvelle, 530 U.S. 57 (2000), it was established that parents have a constitutional right to make decisions that concern the rearing, care, and custody of their children. When parents disagree on the terms of the visitation schedule, the court will appoint a parenting coordinator, who will help the parents to reach a consensus.
The court determines the terms of the visitation-schedule after having considered all possibilities, the financial condition of the father, his living conditions, and past relationship with the child, so as to ensure that the terms of the agreement are framed while keeping the interest of the child in mind. A noncustodial father has the right to enforce his parenting time and develop a strong relationship with his child and not remain a mere visitor. There are specific rights for a noncustodial parent which are as follows.
Refusing Visitation Rights?
The custodial parent cannot deny visitation rights just because the father is defaulting in paying his child support. Neither should the father stop paying child support in case the custodial parent is denying visitation rights. In both cases, the parents must seek the opinion of a legal representative and initiate a new child support and visitation suit in the court.

The noncustodial father must approach the court in case, the custodial parent does not allow the father to see his child according to the visitation schedule ordered by the court. A motion to enforce such a right must be obtained from the court and the exact grounds of violation must be filled in the form.

In cases wherein the father's visitation rights were refused on the grounds of substance abuse, he will need to comply with the order of the court to attend substance rehabilitation and counseling programs.

A parent cannot deny the visitation rights of the father without the courts permission. For instance, if the other parent has charged the father with domestic violence, the father's rights will not be denied completely. In such cases, the court will order that the father be allowed to meet the child under the purview of supervised visitation, wherein, a third person will be monitoring the meeting.

Many a time, custodial parents try to distance the child from the other parent by denying visitation rights on the grounds that, the child does not wish to meet the noncustodial parent. In such cases, the denying of visitation rights in not appropriate and must be settled in court.

Unwed fathers have the right to enforce their visitation rights, even if the mother has not mentioned the father's name in the birth records of the child. The father will have to establish paternity to prove that he is the father of the child and therefore must be allowed to interact and develop a bond with his child.

The custodial parent cannot deny visitation rights to the father on the grounds of him not having an extra bedroom at his house, unemployment, or the possibility of a new live-in companion, spouse, or same-sex partner making the child uncomfortable. The court does not discriminate on such personal issues and is more concerned about whether the child is being allowed to develop a strong bond with the noncustodial parent or not.

The court can give the noncustodial parent extra visitations hours, for the times that the custodial parent did not allow the father to meet the child. The court can also go on to fine the defaulting custodial parent, change the parenting plan, or order that the custodial parent do some hours of community service for having interfered or prevented the father from meeting his child.

In case the noncustodial father does not wish to enforce his visitation rights, he can request for the visitation schedule ordered by the court to be annulled. Justifiable reasons must be given to the court and the custodial parent about wanting to refuse such a parental right. However, such a refusal of visitation rights does not exempt the father from his duty to pay child support.

Alteration in custodial as well as visitation rights can be justified, if the parent having custody has made changes in her lifestyle which can be potentially harmful for the child.
Overnight Visitation Rights
Some states do not allow the noncustodial parent to take an infant child for overnight visitations and allows such a privilege only once the child is three years old. Thereafter, the states may restrict such visitations to alternating weekends and holidays.

The time and date or day is decided and fashioned by the parents and enforced by the court.

The court will look into the grounds of objection raised by the custodial parent for not wanting the child on an overnight visitation with the father.

If the custodial parent does not allow the child to meet the father according to the stipulated visitation, he is entitled to claim his rights from the court.

In extreme cases, denying contact with child for unwarranted reasons can result in a fresh law suit, which may amend the terms of the visitation and parenting plan in favor of the noncustodial parent.
Rights for Fathers Living Out of State
A father staying out of the state may also be allowed a visit without supervision.

However, he must inform in advance that he shall be visiting and intends to meet his child.

The noncustodial father must establish communication with the custodial parent, so as to fix a suitable visitation plan with the child.
This was the basic essence of visitation rights for noncustodial fathers. Eventually, if the court deems that the child must be allowed to meet his/her father, the custodial parent must abide by the order.