As an attorney, I have encountered many fathers who genuinely have an interest in sharing custody of their children however, through their own actions or more likely the general stereotypes held by the courts and society at large regarding the role of men with their children, many fathers find it difficult to successfully petition the court for sole or joint custody of their children. Here are some helpful tips for anyone, but especially fathers to help gain more success in requesting sole or joint custody. *Please note, this blog is not intended to take the place of legal advice. Cases have to be looked at on a case-by-case basis in order to be litigated successfully. For assistance with your case please call the offices of Khalfani Law, LLC for a consultation.
- Hire an attorney. Many people think they can handle custody matters on their own. That is a big mistake. Lawyers know the law. So they know what parents are entitled to, what to ask for in court and how to go about getting you what you want. Equally importantly, and most often overlooked, lawyers know the rules of evidence that determine what evidence is allowed before the court to prove a case. When represented, fathers have a higher chance of being successful because it forces the other side to present proof to support their claims and prove their case.
- Know exactly what you are asking for. Custody means several different things. There is legal custody from which parents maintain the right to make decisions on behalf of their children. There is also physical custody, which determines with which parent the minor child will live. Additionally sole custody, which puts the minor child primarily in the legal or physical custody of one parent. And joint custody, which allows parents to share legal and/ or physical custody of their minor child. It is important to know what exactly you are asking for.
- Propose an access schedule that works for you. This is where so many fathers drop the ball. So often fathers will leave it up to the mother of the minor child to come up with an access schedule and then be surprised when they don’t have a lot of time with their child. The only way that a party can ensure that they walk away with a schedule that will give them the access they are looking for is if they let the court know what that schedule looks like. When you come to court with a proposed schedule in writing, you are better prepared to negotiate with the opposing party what is important for you. When you have something in writing to give to the court, you have a better chance of getting SOME of what you want, even if you don’t get everything.
- Enforce your right to parent. Until a court has issued a custody order, both parents have equal rights to their biological child. It is imperative that as a father, you maintain consistent and regular contact with your children. If someone is blocking your access to your child, immediately file a petition for custody and/ or visitation. The worst mistake father’s can make is to stop being involved with their child because someone in the child’s life is making visitation or custody difficult. The law does give legal protection equally to both parents. It is a father’s right and responsibility to enforce and protect your right to parent.
Even with this information. Do not try to do it alone. Hire an attorney to guide you through the process of gaining the access to your child that you want and need.