If you are going through a divorce then this is likely to be an incredibly painful and destructive period. You are breaking up with someone who you thought you would always be with, and you are losing many of your belongings and the stability that many of us crave – not to mention the financial blow. Often the worst part for a parent though, and particularly for Fathers, is losing custody of the children.
The court system is unfortunately unfairly skewed towards Mothers when it comes to child custody, and many Fathers find themselves losing out. This can be a heartbreaking experience and often results in the Father paying maintenance while hardly ever getting to see their children. If you do want to fight for custody of your children it will be a difficult battle, but there is some advice that can help. Here we will look at some things that can help, as well as some things you need to be aware of when you do.
Make sure you get proper legal advice – This is absolutely paramount, and without getting a good lawyer who specialises in the subject then you will be at a great disadvantage right from the start. Ensure that you spend a lot on your lawyer and that you have a better lawyer than your ex wife.
Establish yourself early on – Make sure that your wife knows you intend to fight for custody of your children before your divorce even goes through. Every argument that will come from this will be better had behind closed doors than it will in a court of law, and this way you can both explain yourselves. At the same time it will come as less of a shock to both your ex wife and your children.
Build on your relationship with your children – Obviously you shouldn’t be ‘bribing’ your children to want to stay with you as that is not fair on either them or your ex wife. However you should make sure that your relationship with your children is as strong as it can be. This will also help them through the process.
Think about logistics – If you do win custody, how are you going to make it logistically possible. Who will collect them from school? Can you get time off of work? What will you do at weekends? How will you fun it? The clearer the picture you have in your head of the future, the more likely you are to be able to convince a judge, and the more prepared you will be when it actually happens.
Look for reasons – The battle will come down to who can provide the better environment for your children. Start thinking about reasons why your ex wife might not be able to provide as suitable a home (without lying) and make a note of these and discuss with your lawyer. The more points you can make, the better your chances.
Bear in mind the new climate – While Fathers do have a massive disadvantage when it comes to custody battles, things are looking up slightly in recent times. Gender equality means that now many women are working in as much as the men and judges are starting to realise that the system has previously been unfair – use this.
Prepare for an ugly battle – Attacking someone’s parenting skill and/or their ability to look after your children is an incredibly personal assault, and just as in the wild, most Mothers will fight tooth and nail to protect and keep their children. As such any attempt at remaining friendly might well go out of the window at this point – and worse it will happen in a public setting and be incredibly distressing for your children. Ask yourselves if you really need to do this.
Research – Spend time researching what this court of law will be like. Speak to people who have been there, and ask successful candidates how they won. You are also making a good start by reading this article – read more, read legal advice and buy books. You can not be over-prepared.
Get it right first time – Some Fathers may think that fighting for custody again in future will make them more likely to win, but in fact your chances decrease each time you try. At the same time, you will find that you create far more upheaval for your children if you get them moved, and you will upset everyone more by going through the whole affair more than once.
Do what’s right – Ask yourself why it is that you want custody of your children. Is it selfishly because you want to spend more time with them? Is it because you want to ‘do over’ your wife? In many cases children have an extra ‘special’ bond with their Mothers, and rely on them for comfort and support (it does not mean they love them more). This is part of the reason that women have an advantage in court, and you need to be the bigger man sometimes and recognise this. If you are genuinely doing what you believe to be right for your children, then the court should recognise this.