When a court has issued visitation and child custody orders, parents have an obligation to follow them. When a parent does not do this, there are several options open to the other party, depending on how severe the outstanding issues are. Mothers can face serious consequences including a jail sentence, the payment of attorney fees and maybe even the loss of any custodial rights, should the mother violate the rights of a father. Read on to learn more about father’s rights in the state of Arizona.
Custody Violations and Custody Decisions
There are several types of custody a court can make but in essence they are dealing with the assignation of child custody to one or both parental parties. Popular custody types include:
- Primary Custodial Parenting Time– the child or children resides with only one of the parents
- Sole Legal Decision Making– one parent has the complete responsibility for the welfare, health and education of the child or children
- Joint and Equal Parenting Time – both parties have large amounts of physical visitation with their child or children
- Joint Legal Decision Making – both parents share equal responsibility for the decisions regarding a child or children’s welfare, health and education
A mother can face an accusation of violating the rights of a father if she does not uphold her court-mandated responsibilities to the child or children, or if she decides to interfere with the ability of the father by making it difficult or impossible for him to invoke his custodial rights.
Courts view paternal rights very seriously including the rights a father has to be a co-parent in the raising of his child or children. Judges tend to reject a parent’s credibility when one parent purposefully or even accidentally interferes with the responsibilities and rights of the other party or acts as a damaging influence in the relationship a parent has with their child or children.
Parents’ parenting time rights are shared via written court orders including the times and dates when a parent may invoke custody rights. The court order may be more specific and clearly make a determination regarding child transportation and locations where the kids can be collected at the start and end of a visitation. Both parents are strongly urged to stick to the mandated court schedule yet remain flexible to accommodate reasonable needs of the other parent.
When the court ordered schedule is deviated against your wishes for multiple weeks or months, it is usually best to head back to court and have a legal modification completed to the court order. If a new schedule has been verbally agreed by the parents and the mother then commit a violation of said schedule, the father may be in a position whereby he is not able to obtain the legal enforcement of the previously stated verbal agreement.
Many fathers assume they won’t have a fair trial when trying to obtain legal custody of their child. This is not true, although it is crucial to have experienced and trusted child custody help in Phoenix. The family law attorneys at Canterbury Law Group have years of experience recognizing and building formidable cases that will protect your interests and maximize your parenting time.
If you’re a father hoping for custody of your child, we have tips that may help you and your case:
Pay Child Support: A father who wants custody of a child should prioritize making regular child support payments. If he has an informal arrangement with the child’s mother, it is crucial to maintain records such as check receipts or a written letter from the child’s mother detailing the support arrangements. If a father is struggling with child support payments, he should request a modification rather than sacrificing a payment.
Maintain a Strong Relationship: Even if the child is not in the custody of the father, a relationship can still consistent. The dad should call the child frequently and check in on their day, schedule a time to stop by the child’s school and introduce himself to the administration and ensure the child knows that he’s there to offer any assistance necessary. A father who wants custody should also attend the child’s social, educational, religious and other important events as evidence of a continuing relationship with the child.
Keep Precise Records: A father should maintain an accurate visitation schedule record to help obtain child custody. A father can capture accurate visitation records by developing and maintaining a parenting plan.
Prepare a Space for Your Child At Home: A father should make a special place in his home for the child, regardless of the size of the home. A court will inquire about adequate living accommodations during all child custody hearings, so a father should be prepared to respond to the judge’s inquiry.
Consider Mediation: A father who wants custody of a child should consider mediation or arbitration, prior to undergoing an adversarial court hearing. In mediation or arbitration, cases are decided by a neutral third party. For a father, custody proceedings in a courtroom may be difficult to handle, so he may prefer the smaller, friendlier setting associated with mediation or arbitration.
Our legal team has extensive experience in child custody help in Scottsdale. We help fathers get fair and equitable treatment by the courts. Recent changes to Arizona law mandate that the court treat both mothers and fathers equally in the eyes of the law. If a man fears that his wife may leave and take the children, it is his obligation to ensure he takes steps needed to protect his role as the father. That may mean consulting an attorney before his wife has the opportunity to file for a divorce.
The family law attorneys at Canterbury Law Group have significant expertise in father’s rights issues and can capably guide you through. Your children are counting on you to make the right decisions both before and after the divorce case has been filed.
Full Custody Right Factors Considered By the Courts
Those parents who want full custody rights should know what to expect prior to their court proceedings. A court will determine the following factors in deciding which parent should gain full custody rights:
Paternity: A father who is interested in gaining full custody of their child should have proven their paternity of the child. A father can establish paternity by signing the child’s birth certificate or by acknowledging paternity during paternity proceedings in court, or after court ordered genetic testing of both parents’ DNA.
The father’s relationship with the child: A judge will examine the parent’s relationship with the child, prior to granting them full custody rights. The father should be prepared to answer questions regarding his relationship with the child during their child custody proceedings. A judge will also inquire about past regular visitation.
The child’s relationship with his/her mother: A court will be hesitant to interrupt a child custody arrangement that is working, particularly if the child’s mother is the principal caretaker of the child. For instance, a court would consider changing the custody arrangement if they feel the child is in danger, or if the child’s mother is suffering from a mental illness or if the child’s mother is taking drugs or abusing alcohol. A father who desires full custody of their child should be prepared to prove that a substantial change in circumstances justifies a complete change in custody.
Can A Mother Violate The Rights Of A Father?
Here are some of the common ways a mother can violate a fathers’ rights:
- Mother’s unilateral scheduling of activities during Father’s custodial parenting time, thereby making it impossible for father to be able to spend time with his child or children to the extent allowed under the terms of the court ordered visitation schedule;
- Encourages others or takes part in ridiculing the father with the purpose of discrediting the father and his relationship with his child or children;
- Without permission or agreement with the father, takes the child or children and permanently moves them to an out of state location;
- Uses the child or children as a message boy or girl to the father or involving the child or children in any issues regarding divorce proceedings or custody issues with a goal of disturbing the time a father has with his child or children;
- Does not co-parent with the father of the child or children;
- When the father is behind on child support, the mother denies him access to the child or children;
- Mother does not adhere to an established schedule and frequently has the father waiting on her to deliver or collect the child or children;
- The mother neglects to include and involve the father of the child or children when he has joint custody in making decisions regarding the upbringing of the child or children; and
- Subjects the father to accusations of child neglect and/or abuse of his child or children despite knowing what she is saying is false.
Recourse When a Mother Violates The Rights Of A Father
The first thing a father should attempt is communication with mother but not when a restraining order against you is not already in place. If this is the case, you need to speak to a family law attorney without delay to initiate conversation with the attorney of the other party.
It will be of great benefit to keep a documented record of the times, dates and methods used by the mother whenever a violation of your rights has occurred. Should the mother make a decision to continue with the violation of your visitation or custody rights, you can call the local police department and they have the means to enforce the orders of the court.
If the mother refuses you access to your child or children, help can be obtained from the local district attorney’s Child Abduction Unit. And of course, you should let your attorney know about any involvement of law enforcement in the scenario you are facing.
If you desire, a contempt court action can be filed by your attorney against the mother of your child or children. A contempt hearing can then be scheduled and a Judge will make a determination if the mother is indeed in violation of the established court custodial orders. If this is found to be the case, the court can do some or indeed all of the following in their judgment:
- Permit the father additional visitation rights to his child or children by making a change to the established custody order;
- Grant the father primary physical custody of the child or children, thereby again changing the established custody order;
- Change the custody order to give the father sole legal custody;
- Make an order where the mother can only have visitation which is limited to “supervised visits”;
- Impose a jail sentence or fines on the mother for contempt of court; and
- As the father had to bring the contempt of court action, the judge may decide the mother is responsible for the legal fees of the father.
Source: Wallin, Paul. “Consequences Mothers Face for Violating Father’s Rights: WK.” Wkfamilylaw, 17 Dec. 2018, https://www.wkfamilylaw.com/consequences-mothers-face-violating-fathers-rights/.
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