What are the Visitation Rights for Fathers?

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  • Written By: Daphne Mallory
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 27 December 2019
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Divorce and child custody proceedings address the visitation rights for fathers when there are minor children involved. Couples can also reach a resolution on child visitation without a court order, such as in legal separations or divorce agreements. Visitation rights for fathers are those rights of a father to spend time with his children, and courts can award reasonable visitation, fixed visitation, or no visitation.

Reasonable visitation rights are those in which the courts leave it up to the parents to determine visitation times and duration, because the parents are still able to cooperate with one another. Fixed visitation rights are those in which the court determines a visitation schedule, including the times, duration, and in some cases where the visitation is to take place. A judge often awards fixed visitation rights for fathers if the parents are unable to communicate with one another to work out their own agreements. Examples of fixed visitation are visits during the summertime, specified holidays, or every other weekend.


Child custody rights deal with how a parent can raise the child and how and by whom decisions are made concerning the child’s care and welfare. For example, a father who is awarded custody has the right to determine what activities the child can participate in. Custody rights are different from visitation rights for fathers, which are restricted to the time a father can spend with the child. An unmarried father often has to establish paternity first, sometimes through a DNA test, before he can seek visitation rights from a court. Married fathers have presumed visitation rights and are often awarded some form of visitation rights unless the mother can present a case that persuades the family court to award no child visitation.

Visitation rights for fathers are often established by family courts in connection with a divorce proceeding. In cases of an unmarried couple, these rights are established when the court has to determine child custody. The court examines the facts of the case, the financial circumstances of the father and the mother, and other factors to determine what the best interest of the child is. The unmarried mother is often awarded custody of the child unless the father can show that the mother is unfit to parent. The court will often award visitation rights to the father if it awards custody to the mother unless the father is abusive or the mother can show that visitation would be harmful to the child. In those cases, the court may award supervised visitation rather than no visitation at all.


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