Author: Shelby Harris
Father Engagement Case Manager Home Based Case Manager
Research shows a child’s father can contribute greatly to a child’s cognitive, social development, academic achievement, self-esteem, and sense of well-being. Father’s play a huge role in the lives of their children and it is important to understand their rights with co-parenting.
When children are born, they create a bond with both of their parents. Research indicates that the role of a father is just as important as the mother's role as a caregiver, protector, financial supporter and role-model for social and emotional behavior. State governments, like Indiana, recognize the significance of the relationship between children and both of their parents and have created laws to help protect children and parents and the relationship they have together. There are many types of relationships that mothers and fathers share and it is not uncommon for them to turn to Family Court to assist with making decisions regarding child custody, visitations and child support. Traditionally, Indiana law court rulings more often grant custody to the mother; However, the significance of a father's rights is starting to gain momentum and attention.
The terms and rules of "custody" in Indiana can be intricate and confusing. If parents are married, they share legal and physical custody of their children. If parents are not married, one parent is typically the “custodial parent,” which means the parent has “sole physical custody” of the child who also lives or spends more time with them. The other parent is typically known as the “noncustodial parent,” which means the child does not live with them most of the time, but has the right to regularly scheduled parenting time. In some cases, the parents exercise “joint legal custody,” where both parents make decisions about the children together and other situations where both parents have physical and legal custody of the children, where the children move back and forth between both homes. Nonetheless, both parents play an equal part in the lives of their children and positive co-parenting plays a huge role in the livelihood of children.
It is important to understand the role fathers play in co-parenting and raising their children, whether they are the “custodial parent” or the “noncustodial parent.” Research shows that children thrive when both their mother and father to play active roles in their lives.