Sometimes gender norms can diminish a father’s chances of being awarded joint custody. If you will be facing a contested custody case, the following tips may help.
Express your love
Bias may help illustrate women as the “nurturers” of a relationship. While this may not be rational or fair, it might mean expressing the bond you share with your child is extra important. In court, share details about the puppet show you put on last night or how far into your bedtime book series you’ve read together. Illustrating these moments may help a judge better understand the role you play in your child’s life.
Focus on how decisions impact your child — not you
The feelings adults cope with during divorce can sometimes get in the way of a child’s needs and emotions. Remember to emphasize how your continued involvement in your child’s life is important to the growth and development of your child — rather than how important it is to you.
Also, try to be understanding of how important it may be for your ex-spouse to play a significant role in the child’s life. Judges know that sometimes thinking of your child’s best interest may mean your life becomes more difficult.
Provide the best living environment
Choose a living environment that provides as many of the following factors as possible:
- Same school district
- Community involvement opportunity
If possible, try to ensure that your schedule matches your child’s schedule as close as possible.
Avoid unnecessary changes
Children need routine and stability. Try to show your ability to maintain stability and consistency by keeping your children from having to go through anymore large changes — even if they are well-intentioned. Hold off on getting a puppy, moving across state, changing jobs, starting a new relationship, and other big life-changes.
Be committed to court
Don’t leave any room for a judge or court to interpret your attendance habits or perceived interest as negligent. Be sure to arrive prepared and on time for each court hearing.
Prepare by bringing necessary documents to court and working with your attorney to be prepared for the issues you will discuss. An attorney can help explain your custody options and help you fight for the right to make important decisions in your child’s life.