Fathers in Minnesota sometimes criticize family courts for denying them access to their children or imposing child support payments that they consider unreasonable. They perceive courts as favoring women in these decisions, but most state laws recognize that both parents have equal rights regarding access to their children. Judges, however, make the final decisions when child custody and support disputes end up in court, and their personal values sometimes discount the rights of fathers. Judges with old-fashioned beliefs tend to consider mothers to be better caregivers.
The results can frustrate fathers, especially if they have limited time with their children and burdensome support payments. Fathers who were never married and do not appear on their children’s birth certificates might also feel shut out, but they can pursue a legal process to establish their paternity and rights to see their children.
Protective orders issued against fathers by mothers who allege violence raise another barrier for men. A judge could issue this order that bars a man against approaching his children without the man being present in court. A man could challenge the protective order by gathering evidence about his interactions with his children. Video recorded on a smartphone or the testimony of a witness who observed him with the children could persuade a judge to end a protective order.
A parent with questions and concerns about child custody might overcome legal problems by talking to an attorney. The support of a lawyer could help someone focus on solutions instead of letting an undesirable situation worsen. An attorney could assemble evidence of a person’s ability to provide physically and emotionally for his or her children and petition a court to approve shared or sole custody. The advocacy of a lawyer might enable the modification of a child support order if the person is experiencing financial hardship.