This is a collaborative post.
Going through a custody battle is never easy. Unfortunately, many fathers are left to feel helpless in custody circumstances. They believe that mothers will inherently always win a custody case, and this discourages them from moving forward and giving themselves a fair shot. Of course, a custody fight can be physically, emotionally, and mentally draining. However, with the right mentality and legal team, you’re well on your way to a fair chance at getting the time you deserve with your children. Here are seven tips for a father’s custody battle:
Tips for Fathers in a Custody Battle
Try to Come to an Agreement
No matter what your situation is, your legal counsel will encourage to negotiate with the mother of your child before you take it to the courtroom. And no matter how you feel about one another, it’s in the best interest of everyone to come to an agreement that’s best for the child. Custody battles are lengthy and taxing, and if they can be avoided, they should be. Ideally, you’ll come to a parenting agreement on your own, which will detail your arrangement, visitation, medical care, education requirements, holiday visits, and other details.
Encourage Joint Involvement
Even if your primary goal is full custody, it’s important that you convey to the court that you do want both parents actively involved in the child’s life (unless the mother has proven harmful to the child). Family Court tends to frown upon situations where one parent is playing interference with the other. Furthermore, if you’re in a new relationship, avoid having the child call your significant other “mom.” Some courts will interpret this as “parental alienation,” and it can cause tension in the case and confusion for your child.
Continue Building a Relationship
During the course of your custody battle, you may be seeing your child less. If this is the case, do your best to continue building a relationship with your child around those roadblocks. Play with your child, attend any school meetings or doctor’s appointments, pick them up when possible, go to the sports games, etc. Call in to check on and speak to them consistently. Let them know that you’re there for them for whatever you need. If the child is younger, continue doing your best to provide for them and keep your face noticed and voice recognized.
If you’re on child support, continue to pay for it even if you’re seeking full custody. If you have an informal payment agreement with the child’s mother, get it in writing or send finances digitally and keep a record of your receipts. If you find yourself struggling to make payments, you can request a modification.
Establish Financial Stability
One of the most important factors in determining who should get custody of the child is each parent’s financial situation. If you earn a sufficient income—especially if it’s more than the mother—you’ll be able to prove that you can provide outstanding resources for your child. Establish what you can provide for that child that requires financial security to do so.
Hire a Father’s Rights Lawyers
You’ll need legal assistance during a custody battle, and for fathers, a legal team that focuses on helping fathers get custody of their children is ideal. “Niche legal services are beneficial because you’re able to leverage a team of experienced lawyers who have handled cases like yours time and time again,” says National Family Solutions, a firm that specializes in father’s rights in California. “You also know that your legal team is passionate about the case matter and will do their best to create a winning situation for you.”
Character references are important in the eyes of the court. The judge wants to know that you’re a good father in the eyes of others, as well. This means collecting references from friends, family, and colleagues. If you’re involved in charities, volunteer programs, or church organizations, affidavits from them will go a long way towards demonstrating your personality and moral character.
There’s an outdated concept called the “tender year’s doctrine,” a 19th-century family law principle that states that during a child’s early years, the mother should be granted custody of the child. However, this is fairly outdated, and throughout the country, it’s been replaced by a new doctrine that in “best interest of the child.” Gender roles are changing, and more fathers are fighting for their children—and winning. Whether you’re looking for full or partial custody, don’t give up or feel as though you won’t be given a fair chance.