Did you know that men lose custody of their children a majority of the time following a divorce? No-fault divorce, which was initially hailed as a great tool to allow for easy divorce, has become a disaster for men who may be blindsided when their wives decide to leave. And what may be most devastating for men is that while the woman’s concerns may be honored and protected, the pain of a divorcing dad may be trivialized or ignored.
So what do you do if you are a husband and father and your wife is threatening to leave you? The first step is to understand your rights as a divorcing dad. Recently on our divorce forum a man asked, “I came home after work today to find my wife and children gone. I have been a faithful spouse and loving father. What are my rights? I am devastated and will do anything to keep my family intact.”
A Divorcing dad has rights
Although there are many deadbeat dads or fathers who refuse to be a part of their children’s lives, there are also many fathers who want nothing more than to be a great father but are excluded from their children’s lives by the mother.
The bottom line is children need fathers just as much as they need mothers, regardless of what the media or sitcoms tries to tell you. As a divorcing dad if you want equal parenting time you may be forced to go to court to fight for it. There are also some general steps you should take as a divorcing dad:
- Do not let your wife determine when, how, or where you can see your children. If you and your spouse cannot agree the court can intervene to create a fair parenting plan.
- Fight for full custody or equal parenting time if this is in the best interest of your children.
- Fight for custody even if you do not have a lot of money.
- Do not agree to an unfair custody agreement without fighting for what you want in court or through mediation.
- Hire a lawyer who will fight for you.
Whether or not the court will give you what you ask for is impossible to predict, but failing to fight will ensure that you will not get what you want.
Divorcing dad must prepare for the custody battle
Hopefully, if you and your wife are divorcing there won’t be a custody battle. In the perfect world you and your spouse would sit down and rationally come up with a parenting plan which is in the best interest of the child. Unfortunately, in many cases, if you and your spouse were able to negotiate great solutions you probably would not be getting divorced. So what should you do to protect your rights during the child custody battle?
- Be prepared for the custody hearing. Because the court is trying to evaluate who would be the better parent for the child it is important to have evidence supporting your case.
- Have the proper documentation.
- Dress for success. Although custody cases should not be decided on appearance, if you come into court all strung out looking like you are not fit to take care of a gold fish the court may decide you cannot properly care for your child.
- Be pleasant to your spouse.
Finally, make your desires known. Articulate them clearly to your wife and then to the judge if necessary. Talk to a lawyer and find out your rights.
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