If you're heavily involved in your children's lives, going through a separation can feel like a double whammy. Many fathers have concerns about how the separation will affect the time they have with their kids and decide to pursue custody. Before the decisions are made and papers are signed, here are five things all dads should do when seeking visitation or custody.
1. Find an attorney that will fight for you. Most lawyers understand that the courts have historically favored moms when it comes to custody arrangements. But it's important to find an attorney that will understand your motivations for seeking custody or visitation and help you present your case in the best possible manner. When you meet with a prospective attorney, ask them how many fathers they have represented, how they've handled challenges, and what they think of your primary goals.
Don't be pressured to settle right off the bat. If you're not afraid of going to trial, make that known. A lot of attorneys may assume that dads want to avoid going to court at all costs. At the end of the day, choose the attorney you feel will best represent you.
2. Ask for the most from the start. Make it known to both your attorney, the judge, and the other parent that you want the most possible time you can get. Don't start the case by asking for a few weekends here and there, assuming you can get more once you've "established" yourself. This will only set everyone up for more uphill battles.
Even if you only want to push for an every-other-weekend visitation, now is the time to be assertive and clear about how often you want to see your kids. Demonstrate that you understand your kids' needs, their schedules and routines, and what they need in the way of care. Be prepared to prove to the court that your schedule is doable and what you have planned is in their best interests.
3. Leave child support out of the equation. If you're asking for more time with your kids in order to get a reduction in child support, you're setting yourself up for disappointment. In very few instances do the two go hand in hand.
Child support is partially based on the income of both parents. So even if you have shared custody and your children are with you 26 weeks a year, if you make more money than your spouse, you will likely have to pay child support. New Jersey is one of the few states that examines the amount of time spent with the parents when determining child support. In these cases, the court will factor in a "shared parenting" arrangement if the father has the kids for at least 104 nights per year.
4. Use a calendar to set your desired schedule. This is an important tool because while you may think you know what your desired schedule looks like, you could be way off base. For example, if you ask for every other weekend and alternate Wednesdays, once you see it on the calendar, it will be clear that two times a month you'll go seven days without seeing your children. And that may not be what you want.
5. Let your attorney work for you. There may be times you get tugged into an emotional situation with your ex. Maybe they pick a fight as you're dropping off the children, or they send you messages trying to discourage you from pushing for custody. This is when to call on the advice of your lawyer.
Let them know what's going on. Your attorney can handle negotiations by remaining level-headed and not getting sucked into emotional disputes, which will give you a better chance at getting what you want. Attempting to compromise with an ex when one or both of you are emotional can end up sabotaging your goals.
This is especially true if you go to court. Your lawyer can convey what you want in a calm, professional manner and will know exactly what evidence to present to help you enjoy the best possible outcome in your child custody case.
Contact a lawyer from a firm like the Law Offices of Lynda Latta, LLC to start your custody pursuit.Share
6 September 2017
Divorce is never an easy situation. For fathers, it can be even more stressful because it is more difficult to obtain custody of the kids. Having gone through a divorce myself, I learned quite a bit about the additional steps that fathers should go through to ensure that they have a fair chance at gaining custody of the kids. My site is filled with the tips and advice that I received from my lawyer and other fathers that have gone through the same thing. Hopefully, what you learn on my site will help you achieve the outcome that you hope for.