A Dad’s Steps to Filing for Visitation Rights!

Moms of Color: A dad's guide to visitation rights

If a child’s father wants to genuinely be a part of their life and is in a healthy mental state, the answer is simple, Let them! The truth is that some fathers are kept away from their children when they do not deserve to be. There are instances of children who are denied access to their own fathers simply because of a failed relationship or personal dispute that has nothing to do with the child. This situation is absolutely too common. I have come across fathers who have mentioned the desire to be a part of their child’s life, but have fallen under the raft of their child’s mother’s bitterness and childish ways. I have also met too many fathers who have let the mother win this battle because they prefer not to get the courts involved. The idea of the government involvement in a black man’s business has certainly created a level of discomfort. They have given the victory to the mother and thrown their hands up in the air in their battle to see their own child, the mother wins and once again, so does the system in an attempt to keep another black child fatherless. This issue is too serious to just let it go on without a fight, a child needs their father in their life, so fight for your rights in fatherhood. We know that the system isn’t always on your side, however, this is typically the case in custody battles, but when it comes to visitation rights, if you are not seen as a threat to your child, with some dedication, your chances of being granted are pretty high. Here are the steps to getting your visitation rights.

Get a Lawyer

If you are able to afford a family law attorney, then get one! The attorney will guide you through everything you need to do. If you are unable to afford one, it’s OK, simply continue to the next step.

Create a visitation schedule

If possible come to an agreement with the mother about a visitation schedule. If you are unable to come to an agreement with the mother, note that in the petition you will file for your visitation. Here are the forms you can use to file your visitation request/ schedule by state. If your state does not have a specific visitation form on this site, you can check with your states court clerk or find an online legal document provider.

File the petition and summons with a Clerk of the Court

According to Chron.com Court clerks are administrative workers who manage the clerical functions related to the courts. They take on a variety of daily tasks and are a fundamental part of the judicial system.  It is necessary to file your petition with a clerk of court, so that the records can become a part of the system.

According to Wikihow.com the attached summons is a document notifying the other party that they have been sued and that they must respond to the lawsuit within a certain period of time or they risk losing some or all of their parental rights

The clerk of courts will enter the case into the court’s docket and you will be given a hearing date. Once you file the petition and summons, make sure to ask the clerk of court how you can serve legal documents in your state, in prerparation for the next step.

Serve the Mother of your child with the petition

This may be a tough for some fathers, or maybe, a rewarding feeling. Every state differs with the way a petition can be served, hopefully, you’ve received the information from the clerk about how to legally serve your petition. Some can serve legal documents using certified mail, a process server or a law enforcement officer. Once you’ve figured out your states process. It’s time to serve those papers.

Be patient

The mother will have a certain amount of time to respond to the petition. If the mother does not respond to the petition, you may be eligible to skip the hearing. If she disputes your request the judge will most definitely schedule a hearing.

Attend the hearing prepared

The key word here is to be prepared. Make sure that you are able to provide proof of finances, a safe home or environment, your plans and dedication to the child, psychological evaluation papers, etc. Your situation doesn’t have to be perfect, just go in with the intention and desire of being in your child’s life. Be honest, and make it known that you are going to do the best that you can; rather your resources are limited or not.

Follow the judge’s request

It’s not uncommon for a judge to send an expert to do an evaluation of your home to see where the child will be staying during their visits. If you are without a home, maybe other arrangements can be made, such as a day at a park and returning the child back home to sleep. Just note that before the judge gives their final decision, they must try their best to endure that visitation is in the best interest of the child’s well-being.

Final decision will be made

Hopefully, you’ll flourish here! If you are looking forward to being a stand-up dad, then we hope the judge has granted you visitation rights! If they have not, then don’t quit. Figure out what you need to do to change the mind of the judge. We hope for the best!

We know that the process is long and strenuous, but believe us, its worth it! The moment you get to have your child in your presence and be the father you are meant to be, will be the most priceless moment of all.

Moms of Color

Writer: Lakischa Smith