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Fathers' rights in Florida custody cases

Once upon a time, mothers had the upper hand in custody cases. They were generally the primary caretakers. Although fathers were often the breadwinners of the family, they weren't always involved in the day-to-day lives of the children.

Today, fortunately, that's no longer the case. Mothers and fathers play equal roles in their children's upbringing. And the law recognizes the valuable contributions that each parent provides in their children's lives.

Yet many fathers still feel at a disadvantage when it comes to custody. The myth persists that mothers have greater custody rights, or that they have some sort of unspoken edge over fathers.

So what rights do fathers have, exactly?

The right to fair treatment and equal footing

Florida law clearly proclaims that fathers and mothers have equal footing. There's no presumption that mothers should automatically get more time with the children or have final say over their lives.

When determining a time-sharing arrangement, the guiding standard is the best interests of the children. The law outlines a variety of factors that must be considered when weighing the children's interests. These factors are objective, meaning they don't inherently favor the mother over the father or vice-versa. Instead, they require evaluating each family's unique circumstances on a case-by-case basis.

The right to remain involved

The law also recognizes that children generally do best when both parents are involved in their lives. Fathers should be able to spend reasonable amounts of time with their children. Likewise, except in rare circumstances, both parents should have equal decision-making power about critical decisions in their children's lives.

The right to be free from custody interference by the other parent

All too often, one parent tries to use the children as leverage in their personal disputes with the other parent. Fathers can become targets of this kind of behavior. Perhaps your ex tries to keep the children from you as retaliation. Maybe she (falsely) claims you aren't entitled to see them if you're behind on child support. Or maybe she slowly turns the children against you, perhaps inappropriately involving them in adult issues.

The law takes seriously any attempts to interfere with your time-sharing and decision-making rights under the parenting plan. If you find yourself in this situation, you can ask the court to intervene. You might even be able to modify the parenting plan in your favor to prevent this type of interference.

Learn more about custody issues in Florida and how an attorney can help you protect your rights.

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