Father Guide to Child Custody
Child custody is an understandably emotional topic for many fathers. Who doesn’t want to see their child thrive through a loving relationship with their parents? The right custody agreement creates that possibility for your child. You can remain an active part of his life by providing for him both physically and emotionally. However, the wrong custody arrangement can be a detriment to your relationship with your child. It can make it much more difficult to maintain the important bond you have with your child when you’re only seeing him once or twice a week.
Many fathers who are seeking custody of their child quickly become discouraged. The reality is that mothers are disproportionately given primary custody of the child regardless of the family’s situation. If you’re a man who is currently participating in divorce consulting or has already filed for divorce, the information in this dad’s guide to custody will help you properly prepare yourself for the realities of a child custody case.
Challenges Fathers Face During Custody Cases
Men and women benefit from different advantages in our society. One area where women have consistently been favored is in the family law courts. Women remain more likely to receive spousal support and child custody in spite of the 21st century’s constantly evolving family dynamics.
In some cases, judges favor women because they want to keep wives and mothers protected from their partner’s wrongdoings. They also believe children should maintain a relationship with their mother first and foremost. These intentions may be admirable, but they are based on outdated gender stereotypes and the concept of women being damsels in distress. In reality, relationships are complicated. Both men and women can be treated poorly in their marriages, and both men and women can also be great parents even after divorce.
At The Micklin Law Group, we aim to advance public perception of effective family law solutions by addressing harmful stereotypes about both men and women. Ultimately, we hope to see deserving fathers granted joint custody of their children. Children who have a positive relationship with both parents are often more well-adjusted and happy than those who are alienated from one parent.
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What to Expect During A Custody Case
Family law for men is an interesting topic. It’s one area where we have statistical evidence of fathers receiving less rights than mothers. According to the United States Census, in 2013, the vast majority of custodial parents in split households were mothers: Only one out of every six custodial parents (17.5 percent) were fathers, while five out of six (82.5 percent) were mothers. It would be naive to assume so many non-custodial fathers aren’t interested in at least 50/50 custody with their ex. The reality is that these loving fathers either don’t feel entitled to joint custody, or they requested a more equitable custody arrangement but did not receive it.
Don’t fall victim to the common misconception that fathers can’t obtain primary or sole custody of their child. When you meet in front of a judge, you’ll be able to express your preferences and provide evidence to back up why your proposed custody arrangement will be best for your child.
At the custody hearing, assume you’ll have a limited time frame to make your side of the story heard. Judges often hear numerous cases in a single day, so their time with your case will be limited. Both parents will have a chance to speak about their proposed custody arrangement. Your attorney will help you prepare a concise argument that explains why you would be the best custodial parent for your child. If your child is old enough to weigh in, he or she may also speak with the judge.
In most cases, the judge’s decision is immediate. It will include which parent will be considered the custodial parent and will outline a visitation schedule for the non-custodial parent. If you are unhappy with the judge’s ruling, you may consider appealing the decision in the future. However, unless the evidence both parents provided was misconstrued in some way, it may be difficult to successfully appeal the order. Talk to one of our attorneys about next steps if you don’t feel your custody case went as expected.
The Myth of Child Support and Custody Entitlement
You may wonder about rights for fathers paying child support. Many dads think, “I’m providing for my child financially, so shouldn’t I have a right to see him when I want?” Unfortunately, there is no legal connection between the payment of child support and your right to see your child. Child support is meant to cover a child’s basic needs, such as food, clothing, and housing. It is not a way to “buy” parenting time.
This standard goes both ways; your ex cannot prevent you from seeing your child because she wishes you would pay more child support than the court ordered. Even if you don’t make your ordered child support payment on time, you’re still entitled to the custody or visitation outlined in your custody order. However, you should always continue paying child support during your custody case or until the support order is amended. Otherwise, you may face legal sanctions.
Tips from a Child Custody Lawyer for Men
Here are some of the most important things for a father to remember when he anticipates a custody dispute:
- Don’t assume anything about your custody case. Being overconfident or overly concerned can affect the way you prepare for your case.
- Keep all documentation concerning your child, even if you don’t think it’s relevant to your case. Once you speak to a lawyer, you’ll know whether this evidence will help your case.
- Maintain your relationship with your child throughout the custody battle. It will help your child feel loved and secure
- If you’ve been ordered to pay child support, continue to do so. Family court judges want to grant custody to involved parents who care for their kids’ basic needs.
- Treat your co-parent with respect. Don’t take to social media to air the details of your relationship or criticize her parenting style. Your argument will lose more credibility with each low blow.
Above all else, I recommend every father who is facing a child custody case hires a family law attorney to help them navigate the process. Don’t forget that there are lawyers who focus on fathers’ rights and can help you overcome the challenges men face in family court.
If you would like to schedule a consultation with a men’s rights lawyer for child custody, contact The Micklin Law Group’s experienced attorneys today. We know this process can be especially difficult for dads, so we’ve dedicated our careers to supporting fathers who want what’s best for their kids.
Contact our team by calling 973-562-0100, or submit this form to hear back from us promptly.