What Are Child Visitation Rights for Fathers?

Child Visitation Rights for Fathers Fresno CA Visitation LawyerWhen children are involved in a divorce, understanding your rights as a parent can be difficult and confusing. This is especially true if you are a father, and primary custody has been given to the mother of your children. What are child visitation rights for fathers in California, and what can you expect when it comes to seeing your kids?

What You Are Entitled to as a Father

Child visitation rights are usually outlined in a divorce decree or other parenting plan. As a father, you are entitled to:

  • See your children during specified hours and days
  • Develop activities during the visitation time that is established
  • Have the police intervene if your visitation rights are violated (the police report can later be used as evidence)
  • Obtain an injunction if the mother tries to take the children out of state
  • Prevent the mother from threatening to deprive you of visitation time
  • Modify the divorce decree or parenting plan establishing the details of visitation

If the mother tries to keep you from seeing your children, tries to move out of state with the children, or otherwise violates your divorce decree or parenting plan, you can seek court intervention. You can also seek a modification of those orders to obtain a better child visitation plan or custody situation for your children.

Don’t Forget Your Obligations

As important as it is to understand your rights, it’s equally important that you are aware of your obligations. Even if the mother of your children is not complying with court orders and violating your visitation rights, you cannot:

  • Stop paying child support
  • Verbally or otherwise abuse the children’s mother

Be careful that you don’t retaliate if your ex is trying to control the situation and manipulate the kids. Your actions will be scrutinized, and you want to remain on good legal terms with the court.

Child Visitation Rights for Fathers Is Not Automatic

You will not obtain child visitation rights automatically as a child’s biological father. First, you will have to establish paternity, or parentage. That means, you must prove that you are the child’s parent. In some situations, the law will assume the identity of the child’s father. For example:

  • If a child is born into a marriage, then the mother’s husband is assumed to be the father.
  • If a child is born and a male has been living with the mother in a family-like manner, he demonstrates commitment to the child, then he is considered the child’s father even if there is no biological connection.

A man may also sign a voluntary declaration of paternity (VDP), which is common for women who are unmarried. When a VDP is signed at a hospital, the man’s name is typically added to the birth certificate.

What Are the Best Interests of the Child?

The court will consider what is in the best interests of the child when determining visitation. They may consider your relationship with the child up to this point, your background, and your mental and physical well-being.

Domestic violence can affect the outcome of a visitation decision. Your visitation rights may be restricted or denied altogether for a conviction. You may also be put under supervised visitation, where someone must observe you during visitation with your children. If you have a significant criminal record, your visitation may also be restricted.

Learn More About Enforcing Child Visitation Rights for Fathers

If you you need help enforcing or modifying a visitation order, contact the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks today.

How Does Supervised Visitation Work in California?

How Does Supervised Visitation Work Fresno CASupervised visitation simply means that a non-custodial parent can only visit with their child in the presence of another adult. Primarily, the arrangement is used to keep the child safe while supporting the child/parent relationship.

When deemed necessary, the court will work supervised visitation into the parenting plan. In addition, both parents may also be required to formulate a visitation schedule to make the supervised visits actually happen.

The court takes any contact between parent to child very seriously. But how does supervised visitation work? And in what circumstances will the court order it? To learn more, talk to a Fresno child visitation lawyer at the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks today.

When Is Supervised Visitation Necessary?

Under the following conditions, the court may order supervised visitation if a parent:

  • Has a history of sexual, emotional, or physical abuse against a child
  • Has a history of sexual, emotional, or physical abuse against the other parent
  • Suffers from a substance abuse issue
  • Suffers from an uncontrollable mental illness that could potentially harm the child
  • Has ever neglected their child
  • Has been mostly absent from their child’s life but now wants to begin a relationship
  • Continuously puts the family into potentially dangerous situations

Typically, if a non-custodial parent adheres to specific requirements, supervised visitation can potentially lead to unsupervised visitation. This means that orders of supervised visitation are often only temporary arrangements. For instance, if a non-custodial parent suffering from substance abuse issues continuously passes drug tests for at least six months and undergoes counseling services, they may eventually be able to obtain unsupervised visitation.

How Does Supervised Visitation Work?

Once the court determines that supervised visitation is necessary, it will specify exactly how the visits will play out.

For example, the court might order that supervised visits must happen in designated facilities. In addition, a monitor may be present at all times in the same room during the entire length of the visit.

Another possible scenario may be that the court orders a social worker, or similar person, to attend the visitation at the non-custodial parent’s home. The designated monitor will pick up the child from the custodial parent, attend the entirety of the visitation, and then drop the child back off at the custodial parent’s home.

Alternatively, in certain situations, the court may allow a relative, friend or acquaintance to attend the visitations as designated monitor. However, that person must be willing, and both parents must agree on the chosen person. If you feel this is your best option, it’s important to consider a person who you both agree is trustworthy and reliable.

Get Help With Supervised Visitation in California

Supervised visitation can play out in a number of different ways. To learn more about what to expect and how it works, speak to an experienced child custody attorney in Fresno. Contact the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks today.

Step Parent Rights: What Are My Visitation Rights as a Step Parent?

Step Parent Rights Visitation Rights Family Lawyer Fresno CAIf you are a step parent, you may be wondering what your rights are when it comes to visiting your step child. Historically, step parents have held very few rights concerning their spouse’s children. However, that began to change after 2000, when most states passed legislation that broadened step parent rights, including visitation rights. While these rights vary by state, they are more or less based on the child’s relationship to the step parent and biological parents.

Step parent visitation cases can be complex, and often require the help of an experienced Fresno family law attorney. Contact the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks today for a consultation.

Who Qualifies as a Step Parent?

Under California law, a step parent is defined as someone who is legally married to the biological parent of a child. So if you are not legally married, you do not have step parent rights and cannot request the court for visitation rights.

Rights of Step Parents Who Haven’t Adopted Their Children Yet

In regards to child custody, the law protects biological parents rights to physical and legal custody above all else. Which means that if you’re a step parent who has yet to adopt your step child, then legally you have no standing to make important decisions on your child’s behalf.

However, many states had adopted legislation that grants step parents visitation rights similar to the rights grandparents hold. This is because the court recognizes that suddenly ending the relationship between a child and an important adult in their life can be quite harmful.

What Happens If the Child’s Biological Parent Passes Away?

In the event that a child’s biological parent passes away, then custody of said child will typically revert back to the non-custodial parent. That is unless a step parent formally adopts their step child beforehand. Some states allow step parents to petition for custody of a child after the death of a biological parent. This is especially true if the child continues to live with the step parent after the nature parent passes away. Ultimately, the court will look towards what serves in the child’s best interest when deciding custody.

Step Parents and the Best Interests of a Child

The court will always rule in decisions that serve in a child’s best interests. When evaluating a step parent’s visitation rights, or just awarding step parent rights in general, the court must determine if doing so will positively affect a child’s life. Here are some factors the court considers when determining these rights:

  • A biological parent’s ability to care for the child
  • The emotional relationship between a step parent and step child
  • If there is any history of abuse from a biological parent
  • The current age of the child
  • How much time a step parent spends with their step child

If you as the step parent has served as a permanent parental figure to your step child, then the court will most likely grant you visitation rights.

How Step Parents Can Request Visitation Rights

In California, you must file a step parent visitation petition with a family law court. Filing such a petition typically opens a new case that involves you as the step parent and the biological parents as different parties. However, if there is already an ongoing custody case between both biological parents, then you will need to join as party on that case.

Are Step Parents Required to Pay Child Support?

Common law states that step parents do not hold any legal obligation to support a step child financially. However, that is not true if a step parent:

  • Chooses to act “in loco parentis”, or
  • Voluntarily takes on responsibilities and functions as a parent.

Similarly, the “estoppel doctrine” prevents a step parent from going back on any promises if doing should would financially harm a child. Again though, this doctrine only takes effect if a step parent assumes the role of a child’s parent and causes that child to rely on them financially. If the step parent meets these such conditions, then the court will require them pay child support.

Speak to a Fresno CA Step Parent Rights Lawyer

Our seasoned legal team understands the frustration step parents experience when trying to obtain visitation rights. Contact the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks today to speak to a step parent rights lawyer who can help.

Holiday Visitation for Non-Custodial Parent

Holiday Visitation for Non-Custodial ParentDuring divorce, when one parent is awarded physical child custody, the other parent is typically given visitation rights. However, child visitation rights are not an automatic right — they’re considered a privilege. Once established, it’s vital that you stick to the parenting plan and visitation schedule, even during major holidays. While the holiday season may seem like a situation where you should spend more time with your children, your visitation rights are the same no matter the season.

How Does the Court Establish Holiday Visitation for Non-Custodial Parents?

Visitation rights are established by either both parents or the court. Depending on the age of your child, the court can consider their wishes when creating custody and visitation plans. This is because visitation rights are not only important for the parent, but they’re also important for the child. In order to avoid conflict during the holidays, your visitation plan should also detail visitation during these times. That holiday plan can include:

  • What holidays the non-custodial parent will see or have the children
  • How the exchange will go down
  • Pickup and drop off locations and times
  • Length of visit

The court will order supervised visitation in cases where the child’s best interests would be better served during non-custodial parent visits that are supervised by another adult. If the court finds that contact by the non-custodial parent will harm the child physically or emotionally, then no visitation will be ordered.

Creating a Holiday Visitation Schedule

While you and your former spouse workout the visitation schedule, you’ll need to determine a plan for the holidays. These major holidays include the following:

  • Easter
  • Thanksgiving
  • Christmas
  • New Year’s
  • Hanukkah
  • Yom Kippur
  • Rosh Hashanah

Children typically spend Mother’s Day with the mother, and Father’s Day with the father. Another important holiday to plan out is the child’s birthday.

When creating a plan for holiday visitation it is important that you’re flexible and reasonable. If you and your former spouse cannot agree, then the court will create the plan for you. You should also be open to compromise. For instance, while you may have the children for Christmas this year, then your former spouse will get the children next Christmas. For holidays when you do not have the children for that particular day, then be open to celebrating with your children a few days before or after.

What Happens If Someone Interferes With Visitation?

Interfering with visitation, even during the holidays, never serves in the child’s best interests. This disruption in the established plan exposes the child to unwarranted change. Unfortunately, the holiday season often creates feelings of loneliness and depression for non-custodial parents. However, you should never act on those feelings and interfere with visitation. Such an interference can give the court grounds for a removal of visitation rights or for even a change in custody.

Refusing to Return the Child

One of the most common reasons for an interference in visitation is when a custodial parent refuses to give the child over for non-custodial parent visitation. Such an interference obviously hinders the child’s best interest because they are deprived a relationship with the non-custodial parent. If you’re a non-custodial parent and your spouse refuses to give you the children for visitation, consult your family law attorney now.

Supervised Holiday Visitation for Non-Custodial Parent

If supervised visitation is awarded to the non-custodial parent, then that right carries over to holidays as well. Keep in mind that the court will decide on when and where the visits will take place. During the visit, a counselor will watch and listen for any behavior that could injury the child’s well being. Even during the holidays, if a counselor sees any of these triggering behaviors, then the visit will end.

To Learn More About Holiday Visitation for Non-Custodial Parent Issues

We can help you with issues related to holiday visitation for non-custodial parent. To learn more, contact the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks today.

What to Include in a Parenting Plan

parenting planLegal and physical custody issues and parenting plans commonly arise in California divorce cases involving minor children. Fortunately, when spouses work together, they can resolve most or all of these custody issues amicably via a parenting plan, without any input from a California court. It is only when the parties are unable to resolve these custody and visitation issues on their own that the court must become involved.

If you are currently at the beginning of divorce proceedings in the State of California, you need a Fresno family lawyer representing you throughout your case. An experienced Fresno family lawyer can assist you with developing an effective parenting plan for custody and visitation.

Legal Custody

Legal custody refers to parents’ decision making power regarding their minor children. It may be sole or joint (shared). A good parenting plan should establish which parent(s) can make decisions with regard to the following:

  • Schooling (e.g., public vs. private schooling)
  • After-school or day care
  • Emergency care
  • Religion
  • Extra-curricular activities

Physical Custody and Visitation Schedules

Like legal custody, physical custody may also be either sole or joint (shared). When one parent has sole physical custody of the minor child or children, the other parent will usually be entitled to reasonable and liberal visitation. A good parenting plan will establish physical custody arrangements and will set out visitation schedules. Many factors may influence the parenting plan and visitation schedule. The most important of these are the ages and interests of the minor children. A good parenting plan should establish which parent is in charge at which time and should make arrangements for the following:

  • Weekend visitation – When one parent has sole physical custody, the other parent may have entitlement to visitation on the weekend. The parenting plan should establish which weekend(s) in a given month the non-custodial parent will have visitation.
  • Transportation arrangements – The parenting plan should establish which parent will be responsible for transporting the children to visitation (including drop-off and pickup locations). It should also provide for transportation arrangements to and from after school activities and extracurricular activities.
  • Holiday and birthday visitation arrangements – The parenting plan should establish which parent or parents the children will spend time with over school breaks and on certain holidays, including birthdays. Many parenting plans provide for visitation over Thanksgiving Break, Christmas (Winter) Break, Easter (Spring Break), July 4th, and other holidays throughout the year. The parenting plan should also spell out what happens when a vacation period conflicts with a regularly scheduled weekend visitation.
  • Vacation arrangements – The parenting plan should set aside a certain number of weeks during the year fotheser vacation time with each parent.

Implementing a Parenting Plan

It is important for parents to communicate effectively with one another as business partners — and that they be polite and courteous in their dealings with one another. They should also refrain from making their children ‘mediators’ or ‘go-betweens’ when disputes inevitably arise. Rather, they should allow their children to voice any concerns they have about the process and learn to value their input.

A parenting plan becomes effective once both spouses and a judge of the court sign and approve the agreement.

Contact a Fresno Family Lawyer Today

If you are in the midst of a divorce proceeding involving minor children, you need a parenting plan in place. Attorney Rick Banks can represent you throughout your case and can assist you with drafting a workable agreement. Contact The Law Offices of Rick D. Banks at 559-222-4891 for an initial consultation.  

Dividing Visitation Time with Your Children

While you might be going through a rough divorce right now, and you might have nary a good word to say about your soon to be ex, you have to take a step back for a moment. While you may despise one another currently, there was a time when you cared deeply for each other, and that love helped to create the children that you have today. No matter how you feel about your ex, you have to make sure that you do not draw the children into this battle. Instead, you should always strive to make this difficult time as easy as possible for the kids. You need to make sure that you are thinking about what is actually best for them. Continue reading