What every father wants for his children
One of the most common types of cases I see is a case where an unmarried father wants to establish his rights over his child. The fathers who come into my office all have different personal situations, different goals, and different feelings about what they are going through. But there is one thing I hear from fathers in almost every case, regardless of the other idiosyncrasies—fathers are looking for consistency in their access to their child.
Under Minnesota law, when parents are not married at the time that their child is born, the mother automatically has sole legal and sole physical custody of the child, and has the absolute right to decide how much time, if any, the father will spend with the child. Often, the mother will allow fathers to spend time with the child, either because the mother and father are still in a relationship or because she acknowledges the importance of having both parents in the child’s life. This can result in a father spending significant time with the child—sometimes even the majority of the time. Frequently, the father will have no set access schedule with the child, but will simply be given time whenever the mother offers it.
What I hear from fathers in these situations is that the time they are being given cannot be relied upon, especially when conflict arises between the parents. The level of this conflict can be something as simple as a disagreement about where the child will spend holidays or it can be as extreme as a mother threatening to cut off the father’s access to the child if he does not comply with her demands. Regardless of the circumstances of the conflict, the father is confronted with the terrifying reality that the mother can take his relationship with his child away at any moment because his rights have not been established.
What you can do
The good news that I get to give to the fathers that come into my office is that they can get the kind of regular, predictable, and enforceable parenting time that they are seeking. I can never promise my clients a certain outcome from the judge—they may get less parenting time than they want, or they may not get the specific schedule of parenting time they want—but I can tell them that they will, in the end, get a consistent schedule. This means that they can now make confident plans for their parenting time, and the mother will no longer be able to use the threat of taking away access to the child to control the father. Regardless of what else is going on in the case, I can always tell that this certainty is a comfort to those fathers.
If you or someone you know is in the situation I have described, have them contact me today for a free consultation at 651-647-0087, or reach out via our online contact form. We look forward to hearing from you.