Divorce is a difficult situation in and of itself — then you throw in the added battle of child custody, and things get even more complicated. Census.gov reports that only 17.5% of custodial parents are fathers — a discouraging number for the good dads out there fighting for custody of their kids. While the courts tend to favor mothers, it’s by no means impossible for a father to obtain custody.
Here are some important child custody tips for fathers to learn how to get custody of a child from an unfit mother and increase your odds of winning a custody battle.
#1: Maintain a positive relationship with your child(ren)
The court will always rule in the best interests of the child and take his or her feelings into consideration. If your child feels safe, secure, and loved while in your care, the chances are strong that you will win partial or full custody. Call and visit your son or daughter whenever possible. Be as involved as you can in every aspect of their life by getting to know their friends and teachers, attending soccer games and parent teacher conferences, and doing whatever else you can do to stay connected.
#2: Be consistent about paying child support
Courts and judges see your child support obligation as a way of supporting and showing interest in your child. Making these payments consistently and on time is a great way to show a judge your level of investment and commitment. If your income has changed or you find yourself struggling to keep up with payments, you may be able to request a modification of court orders. Even if your child support arrangement is informal, keep records that prove you’ve been paying your spouse.
#3: Create a comfortable space for your child in your home
The court will inquire about your ability to provide for your son or daughter — and living arrangements are a big factor. If you’re going to have custody of your child, he or she will need their own space in your new living quarters. Even if you’ve downgraded to a small one-bedroom apartment, you should still do your best to partition off a part of it to make your child feel at home in a new place.
#4: Speak with a lawyer or other fathers who have earned child custody
There is, perhaps, no better way to succeed than by asking for advice from someone who has been there and done that before — and achieved his goal. If you don’t know anyone with this kind of life experience, seek out well-documented stories of child custody cases where the father wins. It can also help to speak with an experienced child custody lawyer for fathers who specializes in this area of law and understands the ins and outs of the process.
Circumstances That Prevent Child Custody Rights for Fathers
Even if you’re diligently following all the advice above, there are certain circumstances that will bar you from obtaining custody regardless of your efforts. These include:
- Child abuse: There’s a major difference between abuse and discipline. Child abuse is the number-one and perhaps the most obvious reason the court would prohibit a father from seeing his children.
- Child neglect: Child neglect is considered a type of child abuse and is another reason the mother may try to keep you away from your child. This means depriving your son or daughter of physical care, emotional support, or even factors as simple as not ensuring that he or she makes it to school in the morning.
- Substance abuse: An ongoing drug or alcohol problem looks bad to a judge and may be the reason you are denied custody of your child. No court is going to allow a father with impaired senses to be in charge of a child for a prolonged period of time. In some cases, even vaping and e-cigarettes can be considered substance abuse, so be mindful about your habits during this critical time. Depending on the severity of the addiction, you can join an addiction recovery group to help you change your habits.
- Arrests or jail time: A criminal record won’t necessarily end all chances of being granted child custody, but your record will make it harder for you to prove that you’ll be able to care for your child properly. Most judges will consider the type of crime you committed, how long ago the offense took place, the nature of the sentencing, and any repeat offenses that occurred, if any.
- Relocation: Courts seek to provide children with a stable environment. If you are moving somewhere far away and trying to take your child with you, you are rocking their stability by moving them away from their school, their social circle, and everything they’ve come to know. Relocation will make you less likely to obtain custody.
Seek Alternative Dispute Resolution
When in the midst of a bitter and painful divorce, mediation and arbitration aren’t always effective ways to negotiate custody. A stubborn and inflexible ex-spouse may be determined to keep your child from you at all costs, even when it’s unreasonable. If you and your ex have failed to sort things out outside of the courtroom, Collins Family & Elder Law Group is here for you with expertise in child custody for fathers so you know your rights.
Call us today for a case consultation and see how we can make sure your son or daughter stays in your life.