One of the most stressful issues during a divorce is child custody. Neither parent wants to miss your child's milestones or lose time spent with the children. Fathers often presume that the courts will automatically give primary custody to the mother, but more and more often the opposite is true. The courts will attempt to do what is in the child's best interest based on the information presented.
Day to day routines and involvement (which parent puts the kids to bed, gets them ready in the morning, doctor's visits, etc.) can play a big part in determining primary custody. More importantly coming to a new routine can help decrease the effects of the divorce on your children. Children thrive on stability.
Often custody is separated into two categories, physical custody and legal custody. As the names would imply, legal custody is the authority to make decisions about the bigger issues like education, religion, etc., whereas physical custody refers to the day to day affairs like food and shelter. Both types of custody can be granted solely to one parent or shared. Sharing legal custody or physical custody can be challenging if it is not defined clearly.
For example, you may be granted joint physical custody, but that does not necessarily entitle you to 50% of the time. The child may spend most of the time with the other parent, but it would still fall under joint physical custody. Usually there is a parenting time schedule or parenting plan that is setup to define clearly what the parenting responsibilities will be for joint physical custody. The major issues that arise from shared physical custody usually have to do with scheduling conflicts and issues. The tools like the OurFamilyWizard website can dramatically help reduce confusion and improve communication around planning the child's schedule out.
For many fathers, having a say in the legal custody issues is important. Part of father’s child custody is helping to make decisions for one’s child. However, shared legal custody may lead to issues, that parents cannot handle themselves. One option may be mediation - you can avoid a lot in legal fees if you can sit down with the other parent and a mediator and reach a resolution that works for both parents. If mediation doesn't work or is not an option, you will want to consult a bar licensed and experienced attorney.
You must be very careful when selecting the right attorney. You are going to spend a lot of money with this person, so you better make sure it is the right one for you. Many attorneys may claim to be father's right specialists, but be careful. Do some research and do not fall for an emotionally loaded statement on their website. They may promise to "beat" the other parent, but at the end of the day this may only lead you down a path of very high litigation expenses.
The more quickly you can move your family through the legal system the better.
Prolonged fighting will only result in your kid going to community college instead of a university. Judges and the courts want to see parents who are active, but not impossible. You and your children will be far better off by showing the courts your ability to work with the other parent.
There are many websites that claim to help you win your child custody case, this is just impossible. There are no silver bullets, no magic tools that will help you win your custody case. Each case is different and must be addressed based on the parties involved. What worked for your buddy from work may not have any relevance to your case.
Over time societal norms have changed dramatically regarding child custody. Before the 20th century, fathers were almost exclusively granted custody of the children. Not too long ago nearly all custody was granted to mothers exclusively. Today, father’s child custody is becoming more common once again. What has become apparent is that blanket rules just do not work for child custody decisions. There are still many societal norms that can get in the way of your custody battle, but at least the system has moved to a more case by case basis.