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Exercising a father's rights in Tennessee divorce

People may assume that in a typical divorce, it is the mother who generally wins primary custody over any children the couple has, while the father is granted visitation rights and is held responsible for paying child support. However, a majority of recent divorce proceedings in all 50 states, including Tennessee, find that fathers' rights to remain involved in a child's upbringing are just as important as the rights of the mothers.

The parental obligation of a father to his children never vanishes, even after divorce. Due to this, a father's involvement in children's lives should be encouraged, as it benefits the children not only physically but also emotionally. Being a "real dad" to children includes weekly visits or calls and takes a lot of effort to maintain a positive parent-child relationship.

After a divorce is settled in Tennessee, a father may wish to continue living close to his former spouse in order to remain near his children. Although staying close to his children may inhibit a father's ability to accept promotions and other career opportunities, it may help him to more easily dedicate time to his children.

Establishing regular visits twice a week can be essential. During this period, a father may pick up his children at school, cook dinner or read stories before sending them back to their other parent. Texting and communication through Skype or Facebook can also be used by fathers on days he can't see them.

In order to maintain a good relationship with his children, a father may need to be emotionally engaged. A father who says he loves his children and is proud of them can make a difference. If possible, attending the children's events such as baseball game, school performance and other activities shows emotional support.

More importantly, the commitment and cooperation of a father to the other parent can be a contributing factor in raising children effectively. Any solution to issues and difficulties regarding father-child relationships should be made in the children's best interests.

In Tennessee family law, a father's rights address the paternity issues and the obligation toward raising a child. Apart from these, a father's right toward child custody and visitation arrangements may be pointed out. The parental rights of a father are not only limited to those who undergo divorce but also include unmarried fathers.

Source: Huffington Post, "Divorced, But Fathering Well," Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed. D., Jan. 4, 2013

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