Keith B. Schulefand, Esq.
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Custody tips for fathers

The courts generally lean towards some form of joint custody these days. However, nothing should be taken for granted during the divorce process, even if there is a verbal agreement. Moreover, the courts will not grant joint custody if it believes that joint custody is not in the best interests of the children. Reasons for this may be a previous history of addiction, dangerous or detrimental behavior, or threats to kidnap or illegally relocate children.

Below are some tips a father may want to consider to strengthen their case for custody. There are many matters that will need to be addressed, but the father needs to think and act like a loving, caring and attentive parent. 

Some of tips may be common sense, but they are still worth reflection:

  • Pay child support: Withholding payment of support does not put the father in a position of power. Regardless of the wife’s behavior, it is crucial to honor all financial obligations whenever possible.
  • Build a good relationship with the children: Some father’s have extremely demanding jobs where they work long hours, particularly as they try to establish a career. Not only check in frequently with the children, but also make a point of meeting teachers and school officials – this will offer insight into children’s day-to-day lives and it shows interest in being involved in resolving issues at school that may present themselves.
  • Keep accurate records: A calendar of visits and even activities can help build and support an equitable parenting plan when the courts decide or revisit a custody issue.
  • Attend important school and social gatherings: Whether it is student of the month celebrations or birthdays, it is crucial to have a presence with extended family as well as children’s friends and their parents. The courts will also look these acts as being involved in a meaningful way.
  • Make room in your home: The children should have their own space in your home. It also is important to make your home a desirable place for children to visit or live, regardless of their age.
  • Donot be a jerk: Regardless of how you feel about your ex, treat them with respect and try to be collaborative in parenting decisions. Showing respect to mom also sets a good tone for family discourse in the years to come. Initial mediation or arbitration is a good time to set that tone.
  • Look in the mirror: Ask yourself if this is really something you want to do. Being an active parent takes a lot of time and sacrifice.

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