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.
- Don't 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.