For many fathers, the prospect of being awarded full custody seems far out of reach. While courts have a history of awarding mothers full custody and fathers visitation rights, attitudes are changing. We’re seeing more dads walk away with sole custody, and even higher rates of joint custody.
As with any child custody case, there are certain things the courts will take into consideration when awarding custody. The court will always make a decision with the child’s best interests in mind. If you’re hoping to gain sole custody of the kids, you may improve your chances by focusing on the following factors:
Your Work Schedule
Just like any other parent, you work hard to provide for your family. However, working a full-time job can make it difficult to provide children with the care and attention they require, particularly if the children are not of school age.
If your current schedule would make it difficult to accommodate your child’s school or day care schedule, consider working with your employer to find a schedule that would.
Presenting the judge with a favorable work schedule that shows you have time for your children when they need it most will help support your case.
Your Relationship with Your Children
The bond you have with your children will play a major role in the court’s decision. If you did not spend much time with your children prior to the divorce, you may have a difficult time convincing the judge that you would be the better fit for sole custody.
Even if the above situation applies to you, not all hope is lost. Actions speak louder than words, so taking a more active role in your child’s life can make a significant difference in the outcome of the case.
Start by spending quality time with the kids. Take them out to the movies, or volunteer to coach their sports team. By taking a more active role in your child’s life and making an effort to bond will greatly improve your case for custody.
Your Flexibility and Cooperation
While it may be tempting to lash out at your ex or be inflexible with your schedule, taking the high road will benefit your case in the long run. Be willing to work with your ex’s schedule (within reason), and be respectful and civilized in all interactions with your ex. Demonstrate your willingness to cooperate and compromise, and the court will be more open to your request.
Your Ability to Provide a Healthy and Stable Environment
The court wants to ensure that your children will be living in a safe, healthy and stable environment. Naturally, you want the same thing for your kids. Demonstrate that you can provide this to your family by:
- Maintaining a clean home
- Providing healthy and nutritious meals
- Providing a stable home (I.e. not jumping from house to house)
- Maintaining employment
- Ensuring your home is safe
If you cannot demonstrate all of the above, you will face an uphill battle in gaining sole custody.
The court will scrutinize your punctuality and dependability when considering your case. Make it a point to always be on time for pick-ups and drop-offs, and do your best to avoid making schedule changes. Consistency and reliability are two valuable traits that the judge will admire and respect.
If at all possible, maintain a record of your reliability and consistency to support your case.
Your Ability to Stay Calm, Cool and Collected
Custody battles can be heated and highly emotional. Maintaining self-control is critical, whether you’re in a hearing or interacting with your ex outside the courtroom. Remaining calm, respectful and civil when communicating with your ex will strengthen your case. Allowing your emotions to get the best of you will only hurt your chances of gaining custody and give your ex the advantage.
Remember, your actions can and will be cited in evidence.
Your Parenting Skills
Parenting skills are equally as important as your bond with your children. Some dads have great relationships with their children, but act more as a friend than a parent. You will need to demonstrate that you are a responsible parent and competent in:
- Providing your children with educational guidance (i.e. helping with homework, school projects, etc.).
- Exercising appropriate discipline.
- Acting as a positive role model.
- Connecting with your children on an emotional level.
While things are changing, fathers still face a tremendous battle when attempting to gain sole custody in court. But that doesn’t mean you should give up on your fight. If you believe it is in your child’s best interest for you to maintain sole custody, work hard to prove your case by working on the factors listed above.
The Micklin Law Group, LLC is a New Jersey law firm focusing on family law. Attorney Brad Micklin was recently named to The National Advocates list of Top 100 attorneys from each state. Brad has experience working with child custody. You can read more on this topic by visiting our Child Custody & Support blog. To set up a consultation, call 973-562-0100.