After a breakup or divorce, if you have children, you have rights to visitation as a parent. The exception being, if one parent presents a danger to the child. That said, it’s not always easy to protect these rights. This is why parenting plans are so important.
Even in amicable splits where things seem good and the parents look like they can work together, the situation can go sideways in a hurry. A parenting plan is a court order that lays out custody, visitation, and more. Once it’s there in black and white, it’s legally enforceable.
One of our founding partners, Rick Jones, regularly appears on the Danny Bonaduce and Sarah Morning Show, where he answers family law questions posed by listeners. One recent caller is having custody trouble, an all too common issue. Rick breaks down why a parenting plan is so necessary and vital to protecting a father’s rights.
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Caller: “So I’ve had some monogamous relationships and I have some custody issues with where I’m paying child support and the mothers are refusing to let me have contact or visitation with the children. I was wondering if that’s legal?”
Rick: “Do you have a parenting plan for these children [that grants visitation]?”
Caller: “No, everything was agreed upon before we separated, and they’re backing out on their half.”
Danny: “This is what I said since the very first day of this, [it’s] never the friendly divorce you think it’s going to be before the end of it. Somebody’s going to get mad and think they’re justified in trying to ruin your life. Alright, Rick Jones, what do we got?”
Rick: “To you and everybody that listens all the time, we hear this question just about every time I’m on. I don’t mean that in a bad way, I mean it in a good way, that means it’s out there. These are things that people are also
“What you do need to do, is invite ‘Big Brother’ in the form of the state, into the equation. In a particular circumstance as this, what you need to do is, you need to file to obtain a parenting plan.
“You’ve probably already proven to be the father based on a paternity affidavit that’s in the hospital.
“If you’re not, you call it a paternity or parentage action. But you’re trying to get a parenting plan, and this parenting plan becomes the schedule. A contract schedule that’s a court order, and it becomes enforceable. Without that, there’s really no entitlement he has.” **
Danny: “Alright, so again, it’s a child custody order, what is it?”
Rick: “A parenting plan.”
Danny: “That’s right, a parenting plan. I have one of those, I don’t know why I couldn’t think of it. Yeah, you need one of those in a big way.”
** In California, unmarried fathers do not have any rights without a Paternity Affidavit. This is usually done at the hospital at the time of birth, or can later be proved with DNA testing. With the Affidavit, unmarried dads have the exact same rights as the mother.
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