If you are a dad who is worried about not getting the custody you would like with your children, you should know that modern family law does not bias against fathers in the way it has in the past. However, some dads might feel like they don't have a chance of winning, especially if children are young, so they don't take the steps needed to actually be granted custody.
You can make a strong case for yourself if you are diligent to the needs of your children. Here's what all dads should do to help make their plea for custody as strong as possible.
Stay Close By
A huge factor in whether or not you'll get partial physical custody of your children is whether or not you live close to the other parent and to the children's current schools. It's hard to get physical custody during school time at all if you live in another town, or even in a different part of the same time. If possible, try to stay in the same neighborhood and express your desire to co-parent your children by getting involved in extra curricular activities and community events.
Pay What You Should
If your separation came with a temporary custody or child support payment plan until further and more detailed arrangements could be made, its in your very best interest to follow it to the letter. Never skip any type of support payment. Don't leave your ex-spouse saddled with debt that has both of your names. Never be late paying your rent, mortgage, or utilities. Money is the easiest way to quantify responsibility and priorities, and if you don't allow you money to speak in a way that benefits you, you will not win the time with your kids that you desire.
Get the Details
It's not enough to be involved in just the financial aspects of a child's support. You need to show that you will be fully present as a parent. Sometimes, fathers can struggle in this area because in a two-parent home, the other spouse often might have taken care of things like permission forms, field trips, bake sales, doctor's appointments, and parent teacher conferences. Be sure to do the following:
- Be available to pick your children up from school, and never be late.
- Know your children's teacher's names and what they teach. Review report cards and homework so you know how your children are doing academically and what subjects they struggle with.
- Take note of children's recent health histories. Is your toddler up to date on vaccines? Does your middle-school-aged child have an allergy? What serious hospitalizations have happened? What medications, if any, does your child need? If your child has special medical needs, you need to show you're able to provide for them financially and emotionally through appointments, surgeries, and recovery.
These are the details that an involved parent is expected to know. Your competency and availability for the needs of the family will play a major factor in your custody case.
Keep Up the Bond
As a dad, you have a great bond with your kids already. The divorce should not change this. Do everything you can to keep your emotional bond strong with your children. Take them on outings, spend time speaking with them on the phone, and provide advice and discipline. Most family courts these days understand the importance of having a close relationship with both parents. Demonstrating this bond will give you even more credibility, no matter what sort of background information or arguments come from the other side.
Your family lawyer can help you compile the information you need to get the best custody arrangement possible for your circumstances.