Fathers have historically faced many challenges in family courts throughout the United States. While attitudes toward the traditional parental roles of mothers as caregivers and fathers as breadwinners are changing rapidly across the country, many divorcing fathers still feel disadvantaged in divorce proceedings. If you are a father preparing to divorce, it is essential to know your rights and what to expect from your proceedings. It is also vital to know the common mistakes that many fathers make that leave them disadvantaged in their divorce proceedings.
Every divorce case is unique, and every divorcing father will face different challenges during the divorce process. One common thread, however, is the value of legal representation. Speak with an experienced divorce attorney as soon as possible to determine your best approach to the situation. Additionally, take a moment to review the following most common mistakes that fathers make in divorce proceedings, so you know what to avoid in your own case.
Neglecting the Importance of Paternity Tests
A paternity test proves the biological connection between a parent and their child. Divorcing fathers should understand the importance of paternity tests as they begin divorce proceedings, even if they are entirely convinced that their children are their biological offspring. Confirming these relationships is essential for divorce, and it is also crucial for unmarried fathers involved in child custody and child support disputes.
If you are divorcing and have children with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, if you have any reason to believe you might not be the father of your spouse’s children, it is always best to err on the side of caution and request a paternity test. A family court may order a paternity test if you have any evidence indicating your spouse has lied about your children’s parentage. If you do not undergo a paternity test, you could potentially end up paying child support for years for children who are not yours.
Moving Out of the Family Home Too Soon
When spouses decide to divorce, living in the same house together can be tremendously stressful for both of them. Some fathers will take it upon themselves to stay somewhere else as the divorce case unfolds, but this is a huge mistake. If you move your stuff out of the family home before your divorce is finalized, there is little stopping your spouse from claiming that you abandoned your home and your family. This can have dramatic repercussions in divorce proceedings, potentially influencing both property division and custody determination for your children.
As difficult as it may be, do not move out of your family home until your divorce is finalized. There is a chance you may secure the ownership rights to your family home through your divorce case, and moving out would effectively forfeit any potential claim you may have had on the home. If you have children, staying close to them and being an active part of their lives is crucial when it comes to child custody determination.
Not Hiring an Attorney
While it is technically possible to navigate your divorce case without legal representation, it is not wise to do so. The divorce process is more complex than most people realize, and if you attempt to represent yourself to save money on legal fees, you could lose a much greater amount than you could have possibly saved. Your divorce attorney can help you ensure you reach a fair and reasonable outcome in your divorce case. They can provide valuable guidance through each phase of the case and help you understand what to expect from your proceedings.
Your attorney can assist you with the procedural requirements of your case and provide additional support that you may not have anticipated at first. For example, your case may involve complex financial issues that require the assistance of a financial expert. Your attorney will coordinate the expert witness testimony, mediation representation, and other professional legal services you may need to reach a fair and reasonable result to your divorce.
Believing Their Situation Is Hopeless
One of the biggest mistakes fathers make in divorce is believing there is no point in fighting for custody or other parental rights. Due to the long-standing tropes concerning fathers in family law, many divorcing fathers immediately resign themselves to the notion that their children’s mother will get whatever custody rights she wants while they are left with a child support obligation and minimal visitation rights.
Once you have decided to divorce, you need to start preparing to fight for the parental rights you want and deserve. An experienced attorney can provide the support you need through all phases of the divorce process, from the initial petition through mediation or litigation, whatever your case entails. Do not fall into the trap of believing you are effectively doomed from the start. Maintain a positive outlook and invest in reliable legal counsel so you can approach the situation with confidence.
Refusing to Follow Temporary Orders
In many divorce cases that involve child custody and child support, once divorce proceedings begin, the judge handling the case will issue temporary support and custody terms that the divorcing parents must follow. Fathers need to abide by these terms, even if they seem unfair at first. You can make a case for an adjustment to the judge’s original proposed temporary orders but consult your attorney to determine the best approach to this kind of situation.
It is common for divorcing fathers to face temporary child support obligations and other restrictions that can seem imbalanced or unfair but failing to abide by these terms will only hurt your position as your divorce case unfolds. If you want to make the most robust possible case for child custody, you need to show the court that you are perfectly capable of following the court’s directions and doing what is best for your children at all times.
Divorce is never easy, and it has historically been much harder for fathers. Avoid these mistakes and invest in reliable legal representation to have the best chance of a positive outcome in your divorce case. The sooner you speak with an experienced divorce attorney, the easier it will be for you to prepare for your divorce and approach it with clarity and confidence.