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What about dad? — the Fatherhood Initiative

Spending time with your children is one thing most people would agree is important for both moms and dads.

In this difficult economic time, with so many families where both mom and dad have to work, time for family and children is something most people would enjoy more of. Why then does our thinking change when mom and dad are no longer together? In the majority of situations where mom and dad are not together, mom typically has more time with the child and dad gets scheduled in with what the courts call “parenting time.”

What exactly is “parenting time?”

It is the legal right of either parent to have time with their child on a consistent basis.

This should be something that parents want to give their children, but that is often not the case. Now, we are speaking in generalities, and every case has its own story, but in general dad is the one who gets limited time with the children and is often at the mercy of the mother to see his children.

It is difficult for some families to navigate this issue on their own and so the courts get involved; both to dictate who gets what amount of time and who gets what amount of money. This is where wires get crossed, because the two appear to be linked … “pay your child support and get to see your child.”

We are in full agreement that parents, both moms and dads, need to support their children, but whether or not a parent can pay their child support, they still have a legal right to see their children. And, let’s be honest: If a dad gets to see and spend time with his children, isn’t he more likely to support his children?

All the experts agree that children who get to spend time with their fathers fare better overall. This is not to say that children whose fathers are unavailable cannot thrive, but when a dad is available and wants to be involved in his child’s life, that child will benefit. Men and women approach tasks with their children differently and children benefit from these differences.

The Fatherhood Initiative, offered through the Department of Human Services, recognizes that navigating parenting time rights and child support obligations are difficult for both moms and dads, and in order to address this, a free workshop is offered that deals with legal rights to parenting time, as well as what the courts expect when it comes to child support payments.

This free legal workshop is offered every other month and is open to anyone interested. Local attorney Jerry Venn runs the workshop and works to answer all questions.

The next workshop will be held March 23 at 6 p.m. at the elementary school.

The Fatherhood Initiative works to provide information and assistance to fathers in Archuleta County. The fatherhood advocate, John Vick, has many programs for fathers, including workshops on money management, employment mentoring and resource building, a GED program and emergency housing advocacy.

These services are available to all eligible persons, regardless of race, gender, age, disability or religion.

For further information about any of these programs, contact John Vick at 264-2182.

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