Dads, Listen Up: Here’s What You Need to Know About Custody Before Heading to Court:
Horror stories about unfair divorces, custody arguments and ex-husbands who refuse to pay child support are abundant, but there’s another side to divorce that’s not talked about quite as often. What about those fathers who are actively involved in their child’s life? The dads who change diapers, take over potty training duties, know how to ease bedtime tantrums and help with confusing math homework? Even those dads sometimes face seriously nasty custody battles in court. Before you stand in front of a judge, here’s what you doting, attentive fathers need to know about custody.
Hire an Attorney Who “Gets It”
Far too many divorce lawyers don’t see eye-to-eye with fathers who say they want extra visitation. Unfortunately, the system has a long history of favoring the mother’s wishes pertaining to custody, and that norm has only recently started to evolve. Shop around before you settle on an attorney and ask how they handled other cases for involved fathers like you. Your attorney should be willing and able to fight for your rights as a responsible father; don’t settle for one who seems to be pushing you into a “typical” visitation agreement.
Demand Extra Visitation From the Beginning
From the very start, it’s important to fight as hard as possible to get the most time you can with your child. You may want your child to live with you or you may just be pursuing more visitation than most fathers get. Either way, be clear about your goals from the get-go. The court will need to see that you have a deep understanding of your child’s routine and needs. No matter what, don’t settle for a limited “temporary” schedule and assume you can change it in the future – you’ll be fighting an uphill battle for a long time.
2 Benefits of Presenting a Schedule
1. The visitation schedule you’re suggesting has to be both realistic and beneficial for your child. One of the best things you can do is draw up your potential schedule on a calendar to show that you can handle the agenda. Include everything from your own work schedule and planned time off to your kid’s football games and tutoring sessions.
2. Create a calendar that shows two different visitation schedules – the one you want and the one your spouse wants. This will clarify exactly how much time you’ll each have with your child. “Alternate weekends” may sound fine to your ex, but actually seeing all of those days in between visitation will make the stretch of time much more clear.
Don’t Talk About Child Support
When you bring up child support during a custody conversation, it can seem as though you only want extra custody so that you can pay less support. Plus, only some states group custody and support together. In Georgia, custody and child support are only remotely connected – even if you split time equally with your ex, the person who earns more money will likely still pay some amount of child support.
If you are a Georgia Dad looking for an attorney who “gets it”, contact Attorney Elyssa K. Williams today at (678) 613-5732 for your free phone consultation.