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Melissa A. Featherston

What to do when fathers' rights are challenged by the mother

The fight for fathers' rights has always been a challenge, particularly in family courts where preference may be given to the mother. Missouri fathers who are ready and willing to have a prominent role in the lives of their children may face difficulties when the mother is uncooperative. Often, fathers may find themselves facing legal battles regarding their fathers' rights, simply to secure visitation time with their children.

Some fathers may not be personally involved with their children initially. This could be because of immaturity and a bevy of other reasons. However, when a father is ready to support and know his children, what legal grounds does he have? What options does he have if the mother is blocking his involvement with his children? While it will differ on a case-by-case basis, many Missouri fathers could choose to use legal channels to fight for their custody or visitation rights.

Low-income fathers or those with other challenges should note that there are non-profit organizations that make it their purpose to assist fathers. This could mean finding an appropriate mediator to help or explore all available legal options. It is important to remember that, if a father feels that his rights have been violated, he has the legal right to challenge any decision made against him.

Determining child custody after a divorce can be a tense and complex process. It can be even more difficult to determine fathers' rights when the parents were never married or the mother attempts to block access to the children. An evaluation of individual circumstances could be the best way to understand the father's options.

Source: ksla.com, "Family First: Fighting for Fatherhood", Charisse Gibson, July 3, 2014

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