Child custody, support issues fathers may face

Some Florida fathers who are divorced or were never married to their child's mother may have trouble keeping up with their child support payments or might not get the visitation rights they want. If a mother obtains a protective order against the father because she fears for her safety and/or that of her children, the father could lose access to the children altogether.

A father who has fallen behind on child support payments should still try to pay some portion. This may prevent a judge from imposing some of the most severe punishments such as jail time. The father may want to talk to an attorney about asking for a modification. Courts may grant this in some cases where there has been a change in financial circumstances such as an unexpected job loss.

Fathers may need to establish paternity if they are not married to the mother of their child and might have to go to court to get visitation rights. However, they still may struggle to get equal time with their children. One father who was not listed on the birth certificate, was unhappy to only get four nights per month.

If a mother already has child custody, a court will generally not take it away from her unless it can be determined that the child is in danger. However, if a father follows any court orders and is able to demonstrate that he is an active participant in a child's life, he might be able to get a modification that allows him more time with his child. Parents may also be able to negotiate an arrangement for shared custody or one that gives the non-custodial parent generous visitation rights.

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