As a father in a joint custody battle with your spouse, you may feel as though you are fighting an uphill battle. The primary reason is that, traditionally, women were seen as the primary caretakers and nurturers of children. This resulted in fathers periodically losing joint custody. But times have changed, and the courts are more and more often seeing fathers and mothers as equals (all things equal).
At my firm, I’m a fervent believer in the value of having both parents involved in the upbringing and development of their child. Of course, that’s if both parents are capable of caring for and raising the minor. We believe that, even in situations where split/shared custody does not serve the tantamount concern, the best interests of the child, a parenting plan can be created to ensure that the children are given the benefit of the most time possible with the non-custodial parent.
In a custody battle, a judge will work to determine what is in the best interest of your children. So, as a father in the pursuit of legal or physical custody of your child(ren), there are a few critical things you must do to show the courts that your children are the benefactors of two capable, loving parents.
#1 Ask for Joint Custody
This may seem like a “no-brainer,” but oftentimes, husbands can take this for granted. You must request joint residential custody. Never assume that the courts are working in your interest. If you and your attorney are not advocating your position, the courts can take the view of “silence as consent.”
#2 Communicate with Your Spouse
This is often easier said than done, but communication goes a long way. This is not only good for the child long term, but also shows the courts that you are able to communicate with and maintain an agreeable relationship with your spouse.
#3 Display Your Ability to Nurture
Demonstrate that you are a nurturing father. The trait of “nurturing” is, by default, associated with mothers. And, in truth, fathers nurture in different ways. But the fact that you nurture differently does not mean that you are ill-suited for joint residential custody. You must be able to demonstrate this trait, and, in a hostile custody battle, be able to combat any claims of the opposing party.
#4 Have a Plan
Have a plan that will enhance the feasibility of joint residential custody. Moving close to the other parent or school is a good start.
If you are a father seeking joint residential custody of your children, you may feel like you’re fighting a battle you can’t win. But, if you can demonstrate that you are able to work in the best interest of your child, you certainly have a chance. It’s critical to retain the services of a qualified divorce attorney who can clearly demonstrate and articulate this to the courts. In doing so, you’ll lessen the burden of divorce on not only your child, but also yourself as a father.
Mia Poppe, Esq.