A Father's Right: Why Men Who Pay Child Support Should Be Granted Visitation
Are Courts Doing What is Best for Children?
The United States is a country of fatherless children. More than 50% of American households do not have a father in the home. Statistics over the years point to many social problems as a result of this epidemic. Fatherless boys are twice as likely to end up in prison while fatherless girls are 53% more likely to marry as teenager to have male influence in her life. The statistics on the effects this epidemic has on children are alarming.
In order to rectify the problem, American courts have put stringent child support laws into place. By requiring father's to pay child support, the financial burden of fatherless children are taken off the government and placed upon the father. Most people agree that fathers SHOULD pay child support to their children. Each day, thousands of men are taken to court, ordered to pay their child support and placed in jail if they do not pay. Though the courts are acting in the best interest of fatherless children, this system does little to fix the the social problems of children without fathers.
In cases of divorce and separation, couples attend a court hearing. At this hearing, a judge will normally set a fair child support payment due by the father and set a schedule for visitation if it applies to the case (in the absence of abuse and neglect). However, when the father is not married to the mother, visitation is not considered during the hearing. When unmarried men are brought to court for a child support order, courts do not hear or schedule requests for visitation. Instead, unmarried fathers must obtain an attorney and sue for visitation on their own. Most men paying child support, especially if they have more than one court order are usually unable to pay for an attorney or miss work for what may be a long, drawn out process.
In these cases, it is up to the mothers or guardians of the children to grant these fathers with time to visit their children. Sadly, only 50% of single mothers feel that the involvement of father has any significant impact on the well being of the child. According to the National Center for Fatherhood:
"40% of mothers reported that they had interfered with the non-custodial father's visitation on at least one occasion, to punish the ex-spouse." ~ (NCF 2001).
Mothers who are angry at the fathers for any given reason, ADMIT to making it difficult for fathers to spend time with their children as retaliation. Even if the non-custodial father pays his child support on time, the father without a court order granting him visitation, he will most likely never get to spend time with his child. Mothers must learn that by denying a good father visitation rights to his children, she is only hurting her children.
Fatherless Children- The Statistics
- 77% of non-custodial fathers do not have rights to visit their children.
- Fatherless children have a 63% higher suicide rate than children with fathers.
- 64% of fatherless child suffer from psychological disorders.
- Children from single family homes have a 56% chance of poor academic performance.
- 71% of teenage pregnancies are to children of single parents.
- Fatherless daughters are 53% more likely to marry as teenagers, 160% more likely to have a premarital birth, and 92% more likely to dissolve their own marriages.
- 75% of American children living in single-parent families will live in poverty before by the age of 11.
Statistics from: Fathersforlife.org
For Non-Custodial Fathers
National awareness is finally turning to the importance of the father's role in the life of his children. Fathers who pay their child support and do not get visitation access to their children should never give up. For those in this situation, there are several things that can be done to gain visitation rights:
- Locate a Non-Profit Fatherhood Agency and ask for assistance. Many states have implemented free programs that assist father's with legal issues, visitation, job placement assistance, and counseling.
- Seek out family law attorneys in your area and ask if they offer any pro-bono (free) services for someone in need. If they do not offer these services, they will be happy to recommend you to someone who does or to a Legal Aid Program.
- Keep an organized, detailed log of all attempts to visit children including the outcome whether it was positive or negative, log all correspondence with the child's mother or guardian. Maintain receipts for payments made to child support and for any other purchases made on a child's behalf. This will be beneficial when it is time for court.
- Do not engage in arguments with the child's mother (or guardian), especially in front of the child. This is bad for the father/ child relationship, and gives the mother of the child more reason to deny you visitation. These things will be held against you if you do make it to court.
- Honestly access your role as a father and whether or not you contribute to the punitive actions of the mother. Consider getting counseling to improve your communication skills or for habits that may hinder you from being given visitation with your child. Take free local parenting classes to enhance your fatherhood skills, especially if you have been separated from your child for an extended period of time or gone through a traumatic situation.
- Never withhold or deny child support payments to retaliate against your child's mother or guardian. This only hurts your child and can land you in jail for contempt of a court order.
- Learn exactly how vital it is for you to be a part of your child's life.
For Seperated Fathers:
Legal Resources for Non-Custodial Fathers
- How Completing Paternity Acknowledgement Form Protects Your Rights as a Father
The benefits of completing a Parenting Acknowledgment Form as a means to secure father's rights when not married to the child's mother.
- National Family Solutions - Fathers Rights - Child Custody and Visitation
Father's rights program to help you obtain rights to see your child that includes aggressive tactics, court filings and custody visitation enforcement.
- How to Be a Dad : Programs and Advice for Fathers : National Fatherhood Initiative
National Fatherhood Initiative's mission is to improve the well-being of children by increasing the proportion of children growing up with involved, responsible, and committed fathers. Find out more.
- NLADA: Civil Legal Services