Thomas Law Office, PLC
How Can Father’s Rights Be Supported In Child Custody Cases?
What Strategies Are Used To Specifically Support Father’s Rights In Child Custody Cases?
The first one is to insist upon equal time as the minimum parenting time schedule. Although there will be times when this is not possible because of work schedules, geographical issues, or other reasons, fathers should, from the beginning of the case, see themselves as deserving equal time with the children. The other thing an attorney will do is remind the judge of the recent changes in the law that favor fathers having more parenting time.
One of the relatively newer laws is the change to A.R.S. Section 25-403.01. It says that “a parent who is not granted sole or joint legal decision-making is entitled to reasonable parenting time to ensure that the minor child has substantial, frequent, meaningful, and continuing contact with the parent, unless the court finds, after a hearing, that parenting time would endanger the child’s physical, mental, moral, or emotional health.” This is a signal to judges that the era of the every-other-weekend dad is over! And that’s even if the father has no decision-making authority.
Fathers, even the ones who don’t have any decision-making authority, should have the right to spend ample time with their children. In some states, the law goes further and creates a presumption that joint decision-making authority or equal parenting time should be the standard unless there is a good reason why it should not be. Although Arizona is not quite there yet, but it is expected that this is one of the changes that will happen in the near future.
A good attorney can also use certain tactics that are very effective in these father’s rights cases. There are many things that a father can do to protect his rights and increase the odds that he will be treated at last as equally as the mother. An experienced attorney will use those tactics to help their clients by giving them clear instructions on what they should be doing, what they should not be doing, and why. The attorney will also tell the clients what things they will be doing, what things they will not be doing, and why. The key is for the client and the attorney to work together as a team.
The client needs to feed his attorney the information about his situation. For example: recent arguments between the parties; evidence of the other parent trying to alienate the child against him; evidence of financial wrongdoing; witness who saw or heard important things; overheard conversations; texts and emails that may be useful; and many other types of information and evidence. The attorney will then use that information and evidence in the best way possible and develop that information and evidence further to increase the quality and quantity of evidence against the mother. One thing that is repeated to the clients frequently is to avoid getting sucked into arguments. The mother may instigate an argument in order to get a reaction out of the father and often falsely claim that she was being threatened or harassed. She can then use this as a basis to get an order of protection against the father, which makes it much more difficult for him to have joint legal decision-making authority if the order of protection cannot be overturned. This is a common trap, and one that a good attorney will help his client to avoid.
If the judge finds that domestic violence has occurred in the relationship, and if the judge further finds that it was not a minor, isolated incident, the father can have a serious problem with getting awarded joint legal decision-making. That is why it is critical to not take the bait. The father should state his response calmly and in a non-threatening manner, and discontinue the conversation. He should not be duped into a situation that makes it easier for the child’s mother to claim abuse or harassment. It is often recommend that all communications be done by email or text, so that there is a clear record of who said what to whom and when. There are many other traps and pitfalls to avoid, and good practices to adopt. These will be discussed in detail with the client so that the client is educated about what to do and what to avoid. This is how cases are won.
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