Fathers who are married have to start with insisting on staying in the marital residence — even after a divorce is initiated — or after marital problems arise.
All too often father’s move out at mother’s request made under the guise of the parties needing space to repair their relationship. Sadly, this is often a strategy to have you leave the residence and thus, leave the mother as the de facto primary custodian of the children.
Sleep in different space and avoid all confrontation with 100% focus on your child(ren), but do not leave the house.
Next, it’s often difficult to prove involvement to the court. To substantiate your claim to the court that you are an involved father and that your presence in the children’s lives must remain consistent, you should try to collect as much documented proof as possible.
This can include text messages with opposing party, or in some appropriate instances, with the children, which indicate you have the children or are exercising significant time with them.
Additionally, many courts have some form of conciliation or an informal proceeding before the court to see if the case can settle with the court’s assistance. Oftentimes, the court will seek information from the parties regarding their children.
If you are not prepared for this, you may be on the spot and clam up. Be prepared to talk a lot about your children, who they are, how they do in school, their hobbies,and special needs or issues.
I have seen parents get caught off guard with this, and it comes off as if you are not as involved as the other parent.
The best thing you can do is continue to be an actively-involved parent. Even better, step up your game.
If you don’t usually have contact with your child’s school, start getting more involved. If you haven’t ever taken the kids to a dentist appointment, volunteer to do so. Talk to your employer about adjusting your work schedule so that you can make sure you’re available to pick your child up for school or piano lessons.
Also, if possible, try to work with your child’s mother by communicating about your child’s needs, being flexible about scheduling conflicts and activities, and avoiding antagonistic behavior.
The court, the guardian ad litem, the social worker – whoever is involved in your case – needs to know that you can accommodate being an equal parent and that you can work with your child’s mother for the best interests of your child.
Make sure you’re working with your attorney to identify all of the measures you can take to show that you’re an actively-involved parent and that you’re filing what needs to be submitted to the court to make sure that everyone is aware you’re seeking equal legal and physical custody.
Actively-involved fathers need to remain active in their children’s lives.
Even if your child has scheduled activities on days that are not your parenting time, attend those events such as sports games, practices, school events, etc.
Continue to be engaged in their lives by being in contact with the schools, counselors and coaches. This type of involvement shows the court that you are committed and want to remain actively involved in your child’s life.
Actively-involved fathers should continue to spend as much time as possible with their children.
Oftentimes, when determining legal and physical custody, the court will look to the parties “status quo,” which refers to the pattern or lifestyle the parties have historically exercised with regard to their children.
A father should involve himself in his child’s schooling by attending parent-teacher conferences, helping with homework and participating in school events. Similarly, he should involve himself in the child’s extracurricular activities and attend practices, performances and events.
Additionally, attending medical appointments and being actively involved in his child’s regular medical, dental and vision care establishes a father as an active and involved parent.
Finally, when the parties are separated, it is advisable for a father to take as much time as possible with his children.
By maximizing timesharing and keeping actively involved with his children, a father sets forth a solid argument with regard to the status quo of the children and that equal legal and physical custody is in the best interests of his children.
It is important first and foremost that a father document his role in his children’s lives. Keeping a journal of what you do will assist in telling the full story to the judge.
Additionally, it is very important that father’s attend as many appointments as possible pertaining to the minor children. Get to know as well the other adults in your children’s lives as such as their teachers, medical providers, and coaches.
The more people know you, the more people you will have in your corner to testify as to your involvement.