Journal of Contemporary Legal Issues
Many fathers are prohibited from seeking custody changes because of the legal costs involved. Parents with joint legal custody often have difficulties arranging visitation with their children. Some parents are difficult and frequently cancel, reschedule, or in other ways thwart regular father-child visits. If a parent becomes frustrated and the issue is not resolved, they may seek joint or sole physical custody. However in order to modify a joint custody agreement, a father must demonstrate such a change is in his child's best interest. The author presents a scenario of a father whose efforts to spend time with his child have been repeatedly frustrated by the actions of his former wife. She even fails to notify him when his daughter was hospitalized. She is getting remarried and he fears this will further reduce his chances for visitation. Courts regularly are asked to address similar disputes and have repeatedly upheld a father's right to court ordered visitation. A critical requirement for parents seeking changes in physical custody orders is that they must demonstrate frequent and varied visits with the child. This is not possible when visitation efforts are repeatedly denied. Even if a parent does satisfy these elements, and is only seeking joint physical custody, the direct costs of the process are prohibitive, the author notes. The parent will be responsible for their own legal fees, the fees of consultants, experts and evaluators, a guardian ad litem to advocate for the child, and often at least part of the other parent's legal costs. For most parents, the cost alone prevents them from seeking custody changes, even when facts are inarguably in their favor. 35 references.
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