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Custody and visitation rights for fathers

Unmarried or divorced fathers in Charlotte might struggle to get the custody arrangement they want with their children. Over 80 percent of custodial parents are mothers, and this suggests that courts still favor them in child custody cases. Fathers may also fall behind on child support or be blocked from seeing their children altogether if the mother files a protection order.

Some of these situations could have a severe effect on a father's life. For example, one father who fell behind on child support was jailed, lost his job and had to declare bankruptcy. Experts say that fathers should try to pay something, which may prevent the most severe punishments, and consider going to court to ask for a modification. Courts may grant this if the father's income has changed or there has been another significant change in circumstances.

A father who, according to court papers filed by the mother, had mood swings and tried to stop his wife from leaving in the car with their children had his access blocked by a protection order. Although he said he would never hurt the children, courts put this order in place when they believe children's safety could be in danger.

Unmarried fathers may face different challenges. They might have to prove paternity before they can begin the process of getting custody or visitation rights.

If a child is already living with the mother, the court probably will not give the father custody unless the mother is unable to care for the child. However, unmarried or divorced parents may be able to work out an agreement for child custody and visitation that feels equitable. They may still want to make this agreement legally binding since this can offer protection if one parent does not pay child support or tries to block the other parent's access to the child.

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