FORMER ABSENT FATHER WINS RIGHT TO VISITATION

Sometimes relationships end very quickly and people move on with their lives.  This can occur even if there is a child involved.  For different reasons, one parent may not be involved in the child’s life at first.  For example, the parent may get involved in a new relationship and not want to stay connected to the other parent.  Does being absent for the first part of a child’s life prevent you from being able to become involved later on in the child’s life?

In King v. Tillman-Gilbert, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals held that a father is entitled to visitation even after being absent for most of the child’s life.  After a brief relationship where a child was conceived, the father married another woman and had other children.  The mother also married another man and had more children.  About nine years later, the father filed an action seeking visitation.  The court established paternity and ordered that the parents arrange

The father then appealed on the grounds that the visitation schedule does not afford him enough time with his child.  The mother argued that he is not entitled to standard visitation because he was absent in the child’s life for so long.  She made no attempt to encourage the child to have a relationship with his father and tried to push the father away.  The Court of Appeals held that the trial court exceeded its discretion in allowing the mother and her husband to attend meetings to get to know one another. 

The father attempted to schedule a play date and the mother never responded.  The court then established one three-hour visitation a month that the mother and her husband were allowed to attend.  The trial court also told the father he was not allowed to tell the child that he was his father.the father’s visits.  This was because the father posed no danger to the child’s health, safety, or well-being.  The Court of Appeals also ruled that the trial court exceeded its discretion in preventing the father from telling the child that he was his father.  The court reasoned that it is impossible for a father to create and maintain a relationship with his child if the child does not even know he is his father.  Thus, the father was allowed to have unsupervised and extended visits with his child, as well as being allowed to tell the child he was his father.

The most important issue from this case is that no matter how long you have been absent from your child’s life, you still maintain rights as a parent.  It is never too late to get involved in your child’s life.  Even if the other parent tries to push you away, you should still fight for your parental rights.  If you are wanting to be involved in your child’s life but are being kept away by the other parent, you need an experienced lawyer working for you.  Let Ingram Law LLC fight for your parental rights.  You can contact us at 205-335-2640.

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