Legal Support for the Father-Child Relationship in Disunited Families.

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Mitchell, A. P.
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This examination of fathers rights presents a series of legal tools for father advocates that can serve as an alternative to court litigation. Often fathers who are very involved with their children's lives find themselves relegated to the status of visitor after a contentious divorce, and feel the only way to gain greater access to the children is through the courts. The authors of this chapter suggest alternative strategies, but stress that the most important duty of newly divorced fathers to understand the rules of family law. Wage assignments and child support add-ons, such as health insurance, child care, and uninsured medical costs are discussed within the context of time-sharing with children. Among the legal tools discussed for custody and time-share disputes are hearings, restraining orders, supervised time-sharing, mediation, and arbitration. Special Master provisions in some state statutes allow courts to appoint an attorney or mental health professional to micromanage disputes and serve as court surrogates. Other tools include coparent and parent-child counseling, and use of psychological evaluators to develop an accurate picture of each parent's character, traits, and parenting styles and abilities. Also discussed are serious legal issues that may confront some single fathers, including false child abuse allegations and parental kidnapping. Detailed advice on these issues is provided for fathers and their advocates, as well as specific instructions if a kidnapping should occur. 5 references.

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