Going through a separation is difficult. What complicates matters more is when there are children involved. Even though you have decided to stop having a relationship with the mother, you still need to maintain a connection with you children for life. Establishing your visitation rights as a father is key to setting up a system.
Tensions may be high but if you and your ex are able to set aside differences just to be able to discuss what’s best for the children, figuring out your visitation rights as a father can be done.
- Be calm. Before you talk to your ex, take a step back. Be mature and think about the welfare of your children and don’t run a laundry list of your ex’s fault in your head. You have to be able to sit down and discuss calmly how you’ll go about having custody days with your kids. Don’t bring up your relationship issues. If you attempt to contact your ex about custody and visitation, leave your personal issues out the door.
- Talk to your ex. Before you attempt to involve a third party to mediate your concerns about the children, try the direct approach. Talk to your ex first and see if you can work out a schedule with her in a calm fashion. Be upfront and say what days and how many hours you can take them. If you are able, you will also need to talk about who gets whom on school holidays and other special occasions such as birthdays and Christmas.
- Talk to the children. If you are successful in determining a reasonable schedule to visit the kids, talk to them together. Reassure the kids of both your love and that even if mommy and daddy don’t live in the same house anymore, they will still get to spend time with both parents. Get feedback from the children what schedule will work for them, such as every other weekend or some dinners during the week.
- Talk to a lawyer. If you can’t get you ex to discuss things with you, you will need to talk to a lawyer. Legally, you have the right to see and spend time with your children. Laws vary per state so consult a lawyer. Be prepared to go to family court if your ex refuses to even show you the kids. If your ex is granted primary custody, you will be given weekends and half the holidays to be with them. There may be a court appointed person during your visits if there is a history of abuse.
- Be responsible. Never withhold child support because you are upset with your ex. It is your children who will suffer. You must maintain financial support for the children. Withholding child support can affect your visitation rights. You must also show that you want to maintain a relationship with your children and that you are of sound mind and body.
As much as possible, try to work out a system with your ex in the best interest of the children. If you can’t then you need to go through the legal system, which can be costly and time consuming. Good luck.