Gary and Sara had been dating for around a year when Sara became pregnant. Gary could not have been happier. He told all his friends and family that he would be a father. Gary decided that he wanted to ask Sara to marry him. He bought the ring and prepared the time and event that he would propose.
When Gary asked Sara if he would marry her, she said no. Gary was heartbroken. He did not understand. He thought that they had been so happy together. Sara told Gary she loved him but was not ready for marriage.
This went against Gary’s core values. He believed that babies should be born in wedlock. Gary and Sara began arguing more than they did in the past. Sara was also hurt that Gary did not understand her feelings about marriage.
Gary had always wanted to be married with children. He felt that Sara would never agree to this. He decided it was time for him to move on so that he could have what he needed. However, he wanted to be a part of his child’s life. He worried he would not have any rights as an unwed father.
As a father, you might feel you have less rights than the mother in a divorce. Though courts favor mothers, fathers do have rights. As a father, you must not give up on your children or your right to access.
Studies have shown that children with involved fathers are likelier to do better in school and get in less trouble with the law. Fathers teach their children to problem solve and offer security and emotional support.
Until you have more access to your children, here are some things to consider
- Hire a family lawyer dedicated to your rights. A family lawyer can help you to understand and assess your rights as a father. Both fathers AND mothers have a right to speak to teachers, attend school plays, attend medical appointments, and participate fully in their child’s life. Neither parent should dominate the child’s time or set parameters around the other parent’s time with the child.
- Shelter your children from conflict. If you are in a high-conflict relationship, ensure your children are not involved. Try to keep the children out of the middle.
- Spend quality time with your children. No matter how much access time you have with your children, they need you. Teach your children how to treat and respect others. Provide your children with emotional security and safety by checking in with them. Spend time with them doing their homework and other fun activities.
- Be a role model. You can teach your children how to cope with stress and adversity by modeling how to manage emotions. Stay present with your children and tune into what challenges they might need guidance on. Children with present fathers are less likely to get involved with the wrong friends.
- Manage your stress and health. You will likely be able to be present if you are physically and mentally healthy. It can be difficult for men to reach out for help. A mental health professional can help guide you through the challenges of divorce and being a single dad.
Monica Borschel, Ph.D. Divorce and Trauma Recovery Coach
Monica is originally from Salt Lake City, Utah. She later moved to New York City, earning her master’s in clinical psychology from Columbia University. She then pursued her Doctorate in Social Work and Social Administration at the University of Hong Kong. Her training and qualifications include certifications in Brainspotting and High Conflict Coaching.
Attorney DeLacy Crovo, J.D.
Attorney Crovo is originally from Boston and settled there right after graduating from Suffolk University Law School on Beacon Hill. Her career began as an Assistant District Attorney for Middlesex County. After honing her litigation skills at the DA’s Office, Attorney Crovo opened her Family Law Practice, where she has successfully created family law solutions and litigated family law cases for over thirty years.
Attorney DeLacy Crovo and Monica Borschel can offer consultations together upon request. A financial advisor can be included.