In the last two to three decades, fathers have gained more rights in the way of child custody than ever before. While it is recognized both by the courts and by psychologists that fathers should be present in the lives of the children they have sired, there are other things the courts take into consideration as well. So, as a father, how do you navigate this? If you are the one paying child support to your ex-spouse, can you still see your children? The following answers should help you in your post-divorce parenting endeavors.

Present and Available

Were you present for most of your children's early lives? This is something the courts want to know. The judge and lawyers will want to know if you actively sought out your children and attempted to have any sort of reasonable and familial relationship with them. If you were absent and avoided your parenting duties completely, it may not bode well for your rights. However, because the courts try to encourage absent parents to have a better relationship with their children, you may not be sunk just yet.

Sober and Drug-Free

The quickest cut-off you can achieve with your children is to be an alcoholic or addicted to drugs. If your ex accuses you of either of these, the courts may request drug screenings to verify your clean and sober state. If you are indeed clean and sober (or you always were), then you have a better chance at regular interaction with your kids. If you are under the influence and/or you show up to court under the influence, your chances are sunk.

Lacking an Abusive Past

If you were physically present for most of your children's lives, but you frequently physically abused them or your ex, there may be some major restrictions placed on your visitation. The same holds true for any allegations of sexual abuse or inappropriate behavior. The courts will still attempt to encourage a positive relationship between you and your children, but more than likely under the watchful eye of a social worker. On the flip side, lacking an abusive past (or at least lacking a provable record of abuse) means that you will be favored by the court for regular visitation.

A Note Regarding Both Parents

While this article speaks to fathers' rights and fathers, the truth is that even mothers can be stripped of their parental rights under any of the above. The state and the social workers attempt to do what is in the best interests of the child, which is a loving home with two parents whom the children see regularly. Mothers have equal rights under the law, no less or more than fathers, while the children's rights exceed those of both parents. Keep that in mind when you seek custody and/or visitation.