Years ago, it used to be that family law courts automatically favored the mother in child custody cases. Barring some compelling reason why the mother was proven unfit, the father would be denied custody in favor of mom.
Our Birmingham child custody lawyers know that this is no longer a given. In this day and age where women are often the primary wage earners and dads are more frequently the stay-at-home parent, dads have a better chance than ever at winning custody of the kids in a dispute.
We felt that June, the month where we set aside time to recognize great dads on Father’s Day, was the perfect opportunity to spell out some of the elements that can help your child custody case – and those that will likely harm it. Of course, every case is different. This is a general guidelines. Specific legal advice tailored to your specific situation can only be obtained by consulting with an experienced family law attorney, who can review your circumstances.
One of the biggest mistakes that dads make in child custody cases if failing to maintain a relationship with their children. It’s understandable that men want to keep their distances from toxic interactions with an ex-spouse or soon-to-be-ex-spouse. However, you should allow nothing to come between you and your kids. Evidence of a strong paternal bond will not be ignored by the judge in choosing a course of action.
Maintaining that bond means staying involved in your kids day-to-day lives. Your child’s teacher should know your name. You should be involved in your child’s extracurricular activities – or at least be present – and know who their friends are. Know the name of your child’s doctor and make yourself a presence in important decisions concerning your child’s health and well-being.
Another big mistake is abuse of drugs or alcohol. This doesn’t mean you can’t ever have a drink and it certainly doesn’t mean you can’t take medications that are prescribed to you. However, be mindful at all times if you choose to imbibe. You have to be especially careful when you are about to embark on a child custody battle or if you’re in the middle of it. This is particularly true with the advent of social media, in a way it never was in years’ past. Suddenly, a few unflattering snapshots taken on a smart phone can have a very real impact on your future with your kids. Use your best judgment before heading and out and whatever you do, avoid breaking the law by driving while intoxicated.
Coming back again to social media, technology is a factor in social media cases in ways it never was before. Your ex can use an electronic paper trail that will essentially hang you in court. Consider very carefully any text messages you send, every photo you upload, any negative e-mails you fire off, any videos you post, any voice mails you deliver. It’s tempting to impulsively blast off a rant or rage at the other parent. But it will not look good when it comes time to show up in court. Keep your cool and avoid it.
Disparaging the other parent. The courts believe that, barring some extreme circumstances, children benefit from maintaining close relationships with both parents. If you are seeking primary custody, you need to show that you will do everything in your power to foster a positive relationship between the child and the other parent. Constantly putting the other parent down will show a lack of maturity, control and a failure to put the child’s needs first.
Finally, obey your attorney’s advice. We understand that this is one of the most emotionally taxing things you will ever endure. It’s understandable that you might become frustrated with the process. But it’s imperative that you work within it to attain the end goal: custody of your kids. Achieving that means listening and following through with the advice of your attorney.
If you are contemplating a divorce in Birmingham, contact Birmingham Family Law Attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.
Divorced Dads – Don’t Make These Big Mistakes, Aug. 2, 2006, By Sean Cummings, Yahoo! Voices
More Blog Entries:
Alabama Child Percent Watch: Mothers Top Earners in 40 Percent of Families, June 13, 2013, Birmingham Child Custody Lawyer Blog