Research consistently shows that the more involved a father is, the more successful his child is. Yet, winning primary or joint custody in a divorce case can be difficult for dads, even with the courts’ increasingly progressive views of co-parenting. Though it’s commonly believed that mothers “always” win primary custody, dads who prove their involvement and commitment in their child’s life can make an equally compelling case in today’s legal system. There are a number of proactive steps you can take to improve your chances of obtaining custody during your divorce and/or for a modification after that are the focus of this blog post.
Have a Plan
Simply wanting custody rights is not enough to plead your case. A judge needs to see that you have a plan for caring for your child(ren), which includes:
- Securing a consistent job (if not already)
- Preparing your (new) home for kids with beds, clothing, baby-proofing, etc.
- Planning for the child’s healthcare, schooling, insurance, or daycare/after school needs
More than just having these plans in writing, acting to prepare for your child will demonstrate your commitment to the judge.
Half the battle of winning custody is just being there. This means showing up to and complying with any and all court mandates. But, even more importantly, it means being present for your son or daughter at all other times when you can. When a judge sees that you are in regular contact with the child, are involved with their school and extracurricular activities, and committed to their well-being, you are more likely to win the court’s approval. Keeping records of visits, phone calls, appointments you’ve taken them to, and even pictures of spending time together can help you make your case.
Try to Maintain a Civil Relationship with the Mother
Yes, it can be difficult. But maintaining a civil and cooperative relationship with your ex is not only better for making your case as a supportive parent, it’s crucial for the child’s emotional well-being. Kids who feel like they’re caught in the middle are more likely to experience depression and anxiety. Cooperating with the mother and not exposing the child to tense conversations will prove best for them in the long-run.
Keep Accurate Records
More and more cases are being won or lost on texts, emails, and phone recordings to the extent allowed by law. Instead of risking custody in a “he said, she said” battle, keep written proof of conversations with the mother and interactions with your child, including:
- Phone calls
- Emails and texts
- Monetary support and gifts other than child support
- Activities you attend, such as church, school, doctor’s appointments.
- Changes in circumstances or arrangements
Put the Child’s Needs First
Remember: it’s not about winning. It’s about ensuring that your child is well cared for in a positive environment. Be honest with yourself about your intentions and consider which arrangement will result in the most positive long-term effects for your child(ren). Kids are perceptive and impressionable. Keep in mind that your actions and behavior during the divorce will stay with your child (and probably the judge through the evidence) and may influence their opinions and outlook on the family for years to come. Courts make custody decisions in the child’s best interests. If you focus this way your custody case becomes that much stronger.
Don’t risk custody with unreliable legal advice or a do-it-yourself divorce. Work with knowledgeable and experienced attorneys you can trust from Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. Contact us today at (317) 913-2875 to get started.
This blog is written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. who handle domestic cases of all types throughout the state. This blog is written for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. It is an advertisement.