Father’s Rights: You Can Win Custody

Divorce, unfortunately, is a fact of life for many people in America today. Whatever the reason for it, the resulting battles over money and property have made the lives of many divorcees very difficult. No amount of property, however, can equal the all-too-real possibility of losing custody of your children – something that is especially likely to happen to men. Historically, women have been seen as more “naturally inclined” to be the primary caregivers for children, while men often find themselves valued for nothing but child support payments – as though you were just an ATM machine, rather than a father.

The good news is that you can get better treatment from the courts: better visitation rights, less burdensome child support payments, and, with luck, better custody rights. However, because the burden of proof in this situation tends to be much higher for men than women, you must be willing to work hard and keep away from anything that would harm your reputation in the eyes of the court. No matter what, this will be a difficult period, but there are a number of things you can do to help get through it.

Before we get into any advice, remember this, the most important tip we have: if you are going to have a divorce and a custody dispute, hire a lawyer who specializes in fathers’ rights. No amount of advice can help you in the same way an experienced lawyer can. There are many resources for finding such attorneys in your state; try and find somebody with a reputation for fighting hard for your rights. Since each state is different, a lawyer is the best way for you to understand your situation.

First and foremost, the best way to improve your chances of custody is to simply be a good father, and to make sure there is evidence of being a good father. If you spend a lot of time with your kids, and you have evidence to prove it – things like photographs of you and your children together, for example – it becomes much harder to allege that you are negligent or absent. Much of the reason women tend to have the upper hand in these custody battles is exactly because it’s so easy to paint fathers as “not really there” in the lives of their children. If you are involved with your kids’ lives in the first place, you will have a good chance of proving your worthiness to raise them in court.

In the same manner, get involved with your children’s school and their extra-curricular activities. If there’s a parent-teacher conference day, you should be there. If your daughter has a dance recital, you should be there. There is no replacement for you being an active and involved dad in this process.

Always be the polite one. Under no circumstances should you yell, and you absolutely can never make any kind of threat. These sorts of things are sure-fire ways to sink your case. You want to be the person who wants to work together with your ex-wife to provide a good environment for your children, not the person who gets angry and emotional. If anybody is going to do that, let it be your ex-wife.

Control the evidence that is found in your home. You do not want to move out the house unless the judge orders you to leave, but if you believe a divorce is imminent, you should pack up anything you care about and anything that could be useful in a court case – prized photographs, financial records, personal items, and so on – and keep them out of reach of your wife. (Storage is a good solution for this, as is a safe-deposit box.)

More than anything, the things that will help you in this difficult struggle are your relationship with your children and your control over the evidence in the case. Too many fathers hurt their cases by being angry or distant or ignorant of their state laws. Do your research, be involved in your kids’ lives, and have the facts to back it up. If you are the professional, respectful one in the case, your chances of having custody go up immensely.