Once upon a time, North Carolina fathers wanting full or joint custody of their children had little hope unless the mother proved completely unfit as a parent. Evolving societal norms have changed the perception of fathers as co-equal parents, and the judicial system is following suit. The current default position in most jurisdictions does not assume either parent is superior to the other in child custody battles. However, hopeful fathers should definitely take care in presenting their case.
Courts generally begin with the rebuttable presumption that both parents deserve equal time with their children. Research has proven that children adjust better to post-divorce life if they have a close relationship with both mother and father, so in the absence of compelling evidence that such an arrangement is not in the best interests of the children, judges are likely to split custody. The guiding principle, however, is the ‘best interests of the child.” If a father can show the most beneficial arrangement for children is to be mostly in his custody, he should prevail.
Careful record keeping is essential in custody battles, and this is especially true for fathers seeking primary or sole custody. Detailed logs of parenting time and receipts for financial support to the children play a key role in showing patterns of behavior. Emails, text messages and other correspondence should be tracked and potentially incorporated into the custody case as well. A demonstrated history of prioritizing the parent-child relationship is a very important aspect of showing a parent is worthy of primary or sole custody. Being fully involved in academic and social aspects of a child’s life is critical. Finally, parents need to avoid sabotaging themselves with vindictive behavior or unsavory comments regarding the other parent, especially when children are present.
Custody battles are stressful even under the best of circumstances. Therefore, obtaining guidance and insight from an experienced family law attorney during the process can be vital.