Divorce is painful on many accounts, but things get very complicated when children are involved and both parents want full custody. Sadly, dads – even those with spotless records – often get shunned in favor of the mother.
You Have Rights, Too
There are a lot of deadbeat dads out there. Men who leave their wives and kids and run off with someone else to live a new life. Guys who aren’t ready to embrace the role of fatherhood. But these are generally extreme cases. They aren’t the norm.
There are plenty of dads like you. Men who have done the right things love their children, and desperately want to be there for them as they grow up. Unfortunately, the stigma of dads as bad guys in divorce cases leaves many good men on the wrong side of painful custody battles.
“In the past, the mother was considered the parent most capable of raising her children for the formative years. Because of this belief, it was legal for the courts to rule in favor of the mother without any consideration for the father’s rights during a custody battle,” divorce attorney Rowdy Williams explains. “Today, the father has equal rights to obtain custody of his children, although it can take a little more effort to exercise those rights.”
Not sure how to make the most of your rights and win full custody of your children? Here are some suggestions:
1. Keep a Paper Trail
There’s so much he said, she said” in a divorce court – so, give yourself an advantage by providing proof and documentation for everything you say and do. For example, if the child is in the custody of the mother during your separation, you should keep a detailed log of every time you’ve visited your child and what you did. You should also keep records of any and all financial assistance you’ve provided.
2. Prioritize Relationships
“A judge will inquire into the parent’s relationship with the child, prior to awarding full custody rights,” attorney Debrina Washington notes. “A parent should be prepared to respond to questions regarding his relationship with the child during a child custody proceeding.”
In fact, the relationship you have with your child is one of the most important factors. The judge wants what’s best for the child and any sort of unnatural strain could be a red flag.
3. Don’t Sabotage Yourself
If you’re clearly the best parent for your child, don’t sabotage yourself. The court has a way of reaching the right verdict more often than not, but you have to let them do their job. If you go around trying to influence the process, you’re going to do something you regret.
Avoid mistakes like physical confrontations with your wife, moving in with a significant other during the divorce, taking the kids unannounced for long periods of time, and criticizing your wife in front of other people. None of these things will look good and will come back to haunt you.
Be There for Your Children
While it can seem like a divorce and custody case is about you, it’s not. Yes, you want custody of your children and know that they’ll be best loved and cared for under your watch, but recognize what’s most important here. The health and happiness of your kids is most important. Provide as much emotional support as you can during this time and let them know they’ll be fine, regardless of how it all shakes out.
Photo: Getty Images