When most entertainment media cover the topic of
family law disputes, there seems to almost always be a father figure cast in a negative light.
How many movies have you watched that included an abusive dad that couldn’t
control his temper? Or, how many television shows have you seen that presented
the mother as a caring, protective figure and the dad too strict and authoritarian?
While we all understand that these are only character tropes, the effects
of this near-constant representation of fathers in the media has trickled
into our country’s legal system, making
child custody and visitation cases an uphill battle for men, in many cases.
Historically, family law judges have favored women when it comes to awarding
child custody. This is due to the prevailing assumption that women are
nurturing by nature and men are not. The saying goes, “A mother
always knows,” not a father. Even though some states have passed
legislation that specifically states family law courts cannot intentionally
side with mothers in child custody disputes, these updated changes seem
to have done little to the subconscious decision making process of some
judges. By some rough estimates, about 60% of cases wherein sole or primary
custody is awarded to one parent (as opposed to joint custody to be shared
by both) mother is awarded custody, despite the father appearing to be
just as eligible, if not more so, to carry that responsibility.
If the odds seem unfairly stacked against fathers due to society’s
predispositions and centuries of common practice, how can a dad fight
for his right to sole or primary child custody,
What Fathers Can Do to Win Child Custody
Put aside possible biases against fathers in divorce and you will find
that all family law courts, no matter what state you are in, are supposed
to rule in favor of “the child’s best interests.” A
child’s best interests boil down to which parent will most likely
be able to provide a stable home and loving lifestyle for the child, which
in turn will encourage positive development. A parent’s sex or gender is
not included in the language of these laws. This is where a father will need
to focus his efforts in the dispute: proving he can provide what is best
for his child or children.
To establish that you, the father of your child, deserve sole or primary
child custody, you should start by thinking of three things:
How your child sees you: The biggest help to your argument for sole or primary child custody is
your child himself or herself. Children will tend to prefer the parent
that has given them the most attention, even if this is not stated openly.
If you were the one who picks up your kids from school, takes them to
the doctor, and reads them bedtime stories, your child is going to miss
that routine and sense of normalcy should it disappear after your divorce.
In order to avoid damaging that comfort zone, a court will likely reward
sole or primary custody to you.
Your relationship with your wife: Along the same vein of keeping the status quo of your child’s day-to-day
life undisturbed, family law courts prefer, if possible, that a child
still see both parents frequently. If you have maintained a civil relationship
with your wife despite the divorce process unfolding, it looks good. In
fact, if you have been careful to not overstep your boundaries or onto
your wife’s toes,
you in particular look good in the eyes of the court, as it wants a child
to grow up under the care of someone who is level headed.
Future relationships and situations: The court will look beyond the here and the now when rewarding child custody.
If you plan on living with some friends while looking for a place of your
own, the personalities of those new people and your overall living situation
must be considered as well. Are you interested in pursuing new partners
after the divorce? The court may not appreciate that venture as much as
you do. In essence, any behavior that could be seen as that of a “bachelor”
is not the same as that of a father & it can hurt your odds of getting
sole or primary child custody.
Considerations Dealing with More Concrete Information
With the three “abstract” considerations considered, it is
time to actually look at concrete evidence and numbers to improve your
chances of getting full custody as a father. What do you have at your
disposal and that is on paper that can help your argument? Sometimes a
properly sorted portfolio is the difference between raising your kids
every day and wondering when you will see them next.
Information and data you can use to sway the court’s decision in
your favor include:
- Your regular income – you can afford to raise a child.
- Your regular (and flexible) work schedule – you have the time to
raise a child.
- Your clean criminal record – you have the right temperament to raise a child.
- Your medical history – you have the health needed to raise a child.
If all of these look good on your end but not so much on your wife’s
end, get copies of her information, too. A side-by-side comparison of
objective information can be powerful in proving you are prepared to continue
being a father, and that your soon-to-be ex-wife needs to spend more time
focusing on herself.
Hold Onto Your Family Home If You Can
Finally, you must realize the importance of staying in your family home
as the divorce unfolds. You should never automatically concede and move
out unless staying poses a risk to your health, such as in incidents of
domestic violence. If you pack up and leave the moment a divorce is announced, leaving your
kids to stay with your wife in your home, you have just created the new
normal for your children, which is living with their mother and not their
father. A judge will, once again, not want to upset a child any further
and will lean towards awarding child custody to whomever stayed in the
family home, out of simplicity’s sake. Should you be given a temporary
court order to vacate your marital home, you should start thinking immediately
as to how you can reverse it.
Irvine Divorce Lawyers Standing Up for Fathers’ Rights
Our team of family law attorneys in Irvine believe that the law should
not be tilted out of anyone’s favor. When a father comes to our
law firm for help with a child custody case, he finds that our legal professionals
provide a welcoming, nonjudgmental environment in which to construct a
case that will protect his rights and uphold both his own and his child’s
best interests. Call The Buncher Law Corporation at
to set up a
and speak with attorneys that genuinely care about our clients and tenaciously
fight courtroom prejudice against fathers going through a divorce.