It can be upsetting to imagine a life where you are not with your child every day. However, this is the reality that most parents face when going through a divorce. Being prepared to meet these new parenting challenges is important, especially for dads since child custody has historically gone in the favor of mothers.
The good news is that societal standards are changing. Although it is true that in the past Minnesota judges favored mothers in most custody matters, most now see just how important dads really are. This does not mean that you will not face any hurdles when seeking custody though. As a dad, here are a few things you should be aware of.
The different types of child custody
There are actually two types of child custody — legal and physical. Legal custody refers to who gets to make important decisions about a child’s life. Physical custody refers to which parent the child spends the majority of his or her time with. Both legal and physical custody can be considered sole or joint so that it can further break down into four versions:
- Sole legal custody
- Joint legal custody
- Sole physical custody
- Joint physical custody
Just because a parent has sole physical custody does not necessarily mean that he or she will also have sole legal custody. It is fairly common for a parent with primary physical custody of a child to share legal custody so that both parents continue to play an active role in decision making. It is also fairly common for parents to have both joint physical and legal custody.
What are your rights as a dad?
Fathers have all the same rights that mothers do. Unfortunately, many men believe that mothers automatically have rights or access to information that they do not. For example, you have every right to access your child’s school and medical records.
In general, you also have the right to help make big decisions even when you do not have full custody of your child. This is why it is important for you to understand the difference between physical and legal custody. Just because your child lives with his or her mother, you might still have the right to help make decisions about things like school.
Your child needs you
Children tend to thrive when they have regular access to both their parents. You should note that you also have the right to reasonable parenting time. Exercising your right to parenting time is essential to preserving your relationship with your child, benefiting him or her in the long run.
Child custody is just one of several issues you will need to address during divorce. However, as an involved father, it might be the most important. Since attending to custody matters can eat so much of your emotional investment in your divorce, you might find it helpful to take the time to learn more about child custody in Minnesota as early on in the process as possible.