The goal of the court is to award custody and draft parenting plans based on the best interests of the children. This generally means that both parents have a close ongoing relationship with their children. Nevertheless, fathers may feel like they are fighting an uphill battle to gain custody or maintain access and involvement in their children’s lives, particularly if the mother seeks physical custody and wishes to remain in the family home.
Many believe that fathers play and important part in the nurturing and development of both boys and girls, particularly in traditional roles involving sports and outdoor activities, but many dads are much more involved in their children’s lives on a day-to-day basis. This is thanks to support and understanding of employers, or by necessity because mom works too.
Tips for protecting parental relationships
The circumstances of each divorce are different, but here are some tips adapted from parenting experts for protecting parental rights, which can modified with input from an attorney handling the divorce.
Do not move out: The environment may be toxic, but many believe it is best to wait for the judge’s order to vacate the premises. Some believe it is best for dad to take the kids with him, but this could cause unnecessary stress upon the kids and escalate an already stressful situation.
Remain involved: Continue to perform all the usual jobs, roles and activities as if nothing has happened – this shows the children that, despite the divorce, you remain committed to them. This can be carpooling, giving baths, helping with homework as well as attending family events and school meetings. Also, be sure that schools, doctors, coaches, caregivers and others have your contact info in case of emergencies or important notifications.
Use a calendar: Kids lead busy lives these days and this helps dads keep track of activities and obligations. It is no longer prudent to count on an ex-spouse for information – they may feel less inclined either consciously or unconsciously to help. Mistakes on dad’s part can lead to resentment among kids and questions from the court about capability. A calendar also enables dad the ability to track his ongoing involvement.
Stay focused: The goal is to maintain a strong presence in the lives of your children, do not let unnecessary legal and financial issues involving the divorce affect the goal of being a great dad.
Speak with an attorney: A family law attorney with experience handling custody and parenting arrangements for fathers can be a tremendous asset in protecting parental rights.