Back in the mid-1970’s, my father was the second man in the state of Alabama to get full custody of his two female children. Though I was too young at the time to remember much of anything, that fact alone speaks to how unusual it was for a father to get custody of his children. And while things are different today, it can still be difficult for a father to win custody. However, it is not impossible. Here are 5 child custody tips for fathers to help you win custody of your children.
Hire a Child Custody Attorney
The very first thing you need to do to prepare for your child custody case is to find a lawyer with experience in family law. Even better if you can find one who specializes in father’s rights. Having a compentent lawyer by your side to answer any questions and lead you through the process will make things a lot easier. In addition they will be familiar with the child custody laws in your area.
And speaking of child custody laws, these can vary from state to state. It is in your best interest to familiarize yourself with the custody laws in your area. Not only will this help you feel less confused and vulnerable, it can also help you figure out a list of questions to ask your divorce lawyer as the court date draws near.
Give Mediation a Try
A divorce is often painful enough without having to drag everyone involved into an extended courtroom battle. Plus things can get very complicated and even more painful when children are involved and both parents want full custody. Before you head to court, consider giving child custody mediation a try. This is where a neutral third party helps you both come to an agreement.
Sit down together and try to negotiate a fair parenting agreement that you both are happy with. This agreement should include topics such as custody arrangements, visitations, child support payments and other factors. Mediation not only helps both parents avoid the costs, frustrations, and emotional stress involved with going to court, but it can also help to create a positive co-parenting environment for the children.
Besides, a parenting agreement is always the final goal of all custody battles and most courts require one being entered before issuing a final ruling on the custody case.
Know Every Detail of Your Children’s Lives
Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to child custody and fathers. In many marriages it’s often the mother who is most familiar with the children’s schedules, activities, friends, teachers, doctors and dentists. When seeking custody, all the information that moms have, dads need to have as well. This includes important names, dates, places, and people in the lives of your children. Keep a journal with this information handy.
Be An Active Participant in Your Childrens’ Lives
The relationship you have with your children is one of the most important factors in a child custody hearing. The judge wants what’s best for the children, and he or she will be able to tell the difference between a father who is actively involved versus one who is just a passive participant.
Therefore it is extremely important that you remain invested and engaged in your children’s lives, and that you have made and will continue to make whatever sacrifices are necessary to be an involved parent. Just as it was when you were married, your children should remain your top priority.
This includes everything from picking them up from school on a regular basis to attending all school or parent/teacher meetings. Be sure to have regular conversations with mom about things like doctor’s appointments, driving lessons, and afterschool activities.
Remember that journal I mentioned above? In addition to the important names, places, and people in the lives of your children, you should also use that journal to document pretty much anything related to your interactions with your children and even your ex.
Keep a detailed log of every time you’ve visited your children during your separation and what you did. Make sure you list the exact times and dates. You should also keep records of all financial assistance you’ve provided, as well as any negative behavior your ex displays.
Providing proof and documentation for everything you say and do will be an definite advantage.
Keep It Civil
There’s a lot of anger and hurt involved in divorce and custody battles, but it will work in your favor if you can keep things civil. Although you are no longer husband and wife, you are still both co-parents and you are going to have to be able to communicate as you raise your children. It can’t hurt to read up on effective co-parenting, and try to implement as many of the tips as possible.
In additon, the way you treat the mother of your children could be a factor in determining custody. Being disrespectful, rude or argumentative not only hurts your chances for custody, it also affects your children.
Show a willingness to work with your ex. While you may not like your ex, she is a part of your kids’ lives, and you need to show the court that you’re willing to work together.
Don’t Sabatoge Yourself
How you behave and what you do during the child custody process can — and most likely will — directly influence the final ruling. Avoid making mistakes such as arguing with your ex-wife, bad-mouthing her in front of other people or your children, moving in with a new significant other during the divorce, or taking the kids unannounced for long periods of time.
Be careful when it comes to social media, too. Avoid posting any details about your case. And be extremely careful about what you post. It’s entirely too easy for someone to form the wrong impression or even take something out of context. In fact, it may be best to avoid your social media accounts all together during this time.
In addition, you should refrain from all outbursts and shows of anger – especially in the courtroom.
Although the courts generally prefer for parents to share child custody, there are situations where the courts will grant full custody to one parent. And today, more and more fathers are seeking custody of their children – and winning. While there is no magical formula, taking advantage of these child custody tips for fathers can make a big difference.