Even in a time when the definition of “parent” continues to change, many people still automatically assume that the mother will serve as the primary custodian of the children in a divorce. However, fathers have just as much of a right to pursue custody of their children as the mother does.
The unfortunate fact, however, is that fathers often have more of an uphill battle in exercising their parental rights in a divorce than mothers do. That does not mean it is impossible; it may just require more work.
Increasing the odds of obtaining joint or sole custody
It may not seem fair that you may have to do more work to show that you are a good parent, but you know your relationship with your children is worth it. There are things you can do to show the court your commitment to your children. Consider the following:
- Make sure your children have their own space in your home. Showing the court you have adequate living accommodations for your children is vital.
- Continue to build your relationship with your children. Take an interest in their day, their school and other events in their lives.
- Make sure you attend events with your child, such as school and extracurricular activities, religious services, sporting events and birthday parties.
- Make your child support payments to show the court that you intend to honor your financial obligations to your children.
- Make sure you can handle the responsibilities that come with physical custody. For instance, consider your work schedule and other non-custodial responsibilities when telling the court what you can handle regarding parenting time.
- Even though your marital relationship has ended, you will still need to communicate with the mother of your children. It will go a long way with the court to respect that relationship and work to develop a post-divorce parenting relationship.
- Prepare for your child custody hearing. Anticipate the questions the court may ask, and have your answers ready.
Of course, you could bypass a contentious court battle by participating in mediation with your children’s mother. If your relationship allows for it, you could create your own parenting plan and child custody agreement. This allows you and your future former spouse to develop a plan that works best for your children and you. You may still face questions from the court, but putting aside your feelings for each other in order to provide for your children’s best interests goes a long way with the court.