For many fathers in the United States, the divorce process can feel like an uphill battle at every phase of the process. Traditionally, fathers have faced significant disadvantages in family court. In fact, for many years, it was commonly accepted that the average father had a diminished chance of securing child custody rights. These trends have alleviated somewhat in recent years, but many fathers still face significant difficulties while navigating the family court system.
If you are preparing to divorce, it is important to dispel common misconceptions about the divorce process. In addition, fathers must identify the best ways to approach this difficult situation. Keep the following tips in mind as you prepare for your divorce proceedings to give yourself the best chance of securing the child custody arrangements you desire.
Never Move Out of the Family Home
It is common for divorcing fathers to believe they should just pack up and find somewhere else to stay while the legal process unfolds. This is often a significant mistake. Negativity between divorcing spouses can encourage spiteful behavior, and it would be simple for a mother in this position to claim her child’s father has abandoned the family. The sentiment will be difficult for the father to disprove during the divorce case.
If you are divorcing, it is safest to anticipate that your former spouse may claim you abandoned the family intentionally and remain in your home. Even if you and your spouse are constantly arguing, the best thing to do is to arrange separate living space for yourself inside the home and remain as neutral as possible. Try to maintain consistency while interacting with your children, as this will help you continue a healthy relationship with them as the divorce proceeds.
Maintain an Active Parenting Schedule
If you intend to fight for custody rights, it is vital to prove to the court that you have the same ability to parent your children effectively as their mother. Divorce can seem to upend virtually every aspect of your life, but this does not mean that you need to completely overhaul your relationships with your children. Do your best to maintain normalcy for their sake but be sure to talk to them about what is happening. Remember that while divorce may be difficult for you, it is often doubly so for your kids, especially if they are too young to truly grasp what is happening.
Try to attend school and social events as you normally would and remain as active in your children’s lives as possible. Remember that you still have the right to attend parent-teacher conferences, birthday parties, and other events that are important to your children. Make sure they know that even though things may be changing in your home, you intend to remain an important part of their lives.
Some divorcing spouses go to extreme lengths when it comes to persuading the court to view the other unfavorably during divorce proceedings. If you want to ensure fair treatment, take time to gather character references that help you prove your ability as a parent and your ongoing dedication to your children. Ask relatives, friends of the family, neighbors, and coworkers to provide you with references so you can make a compelling case in this regard. An experienced attorney can help you determine what kind of references would be the most helpful in your unique case.
Keep Your Cool
One of the most difficult aspects of divorce is maintaining your calm in the face of heated emotional issues. However, it is vital for fathers to remember the stereotypes that often plague the divorce process for fathers in the US. For example, it is more common for men than women to be viewed as aggressive, angry, and combative. If you lose your temper, especially regarding your spouse or children, your behavior will reflect poorly upon you as your case proceeds. You should anticipate that your spouse will use these negative episodes against you, so strive to maintain the high road and do not let your emotions prevail.
Abide by All Temporary Orders
In many situations, family courts issue temporary orders as a divorce case begins. Your case may involve a temporary child custody and/or child support arrangement that you may not feel is entirely fair. Unfortunately, when temporary custody orders become necessary, the family court systems in the US often favors mothers.
If a judge issues any temporary child custody or support orders, follow your instructions to the letter even if you think they are unfair or one-sided. Eventually, your attorney can help you secure more favorable terms and may even help you account for any excessive restrictions or obligations you faced while under the temporary orders.
Be Honest and Transparent in Financial Disclosure
Many divorcing fathers assume they will be left with minimal custody rights and substantial child support obligations. Still, it is vital for any father in this situation to remember that the court has an obligation to rule in the best interests of a divorcing couple’s children. Being honest with your financial disclosure will ensure a fair result when it comes to your child support obligations. Attempting to hide assets or failing to disclose required information will backfire tremendously and may even result in fraud charges.
Hire Reliable Legal Counsel
Perhaps the most important thing any father can do to prepare for the divorce process is to hire a skilled divorce attorney. Competent legal counsel is invaluable for any divorcing parent. Many divorcing fathers who feel disadvantaged by the family court system can find renewed confidence by hiring the right attorney.
Take time to research local attorneys until you find one able to give you a clear, concise evaluation of your options to move forward. Many family law attorneys offer free or low-cost consultations, and these can be great opportunities to scout local attorneys until you find the one who is right for your case. If you are unsure how to approach your divorce case, contact an experienced divorce attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options.