Despite the changes in thinking and lawmaking across the country, many fathers understand that when it comes to winning custody of their children, they have an uphill battle. Laws in Kentucky are changing slowly, but it is not unusual to encounter judges who still believe children are better off with their mothers as primary care givers – all other factors being equal.
If you are a father facing divorce or separation from the mother of your child, you should know that you may have challenges ahead. You may hear the terms “shared custody” and “co-parenting,” but if you want to achieve a balanced custody agreement, you may have to fight for your rights.
Be your best self
As frustrating as it may feel to have to battle for equal parenting time, it is often a sad reality. Some courts still assume children should be with their mothers, and you may have to prove you have the ability and desire to be an active co-parent. The choices you make may influence the court and demonstrate that spending equal time with you is in the best interests of the child; for example:
- Refuse to allow your ex to raise your temper or goad you into a fight. You will avoid giving your ex ammunition to use against you during a custody hearing, and it may help you remain calm and focused.
- Prepare careful records of your own habits as well as any interactions with your ex. This includes any insults or threats your ex makes, negative incidents involving your ex and spending habits that may demonstrate your ex’s carelessness.
- Your own behavior may be under equal scrutiny, so it is wise to avoid public scenes, alcohol and drugs, financial irresponsibility or other factors your ex may use against you.
- Be as available as possible to your children, including showing up for their games and events, helping with homework, and never speaking negatively to them about their mother.
- Your own good health allows you to be a better parent and to provide an example to your children, so it is wise to eat well, exercise and find healthy ways to relieve your stress.
- Moving out of the house automatically gives your ex an advantage, so it is often better to remain in the home if your attorney advises it.
Of course, there is no predicting what may happen during the often-stressful process of determining child custody. Having an attorney means having an ally who has experience in these matters and who can offer guidance in the best ways to respond to any challenges.