Fathers facing a custody battle need to take extra steps to ensure they have the best chance at winning. Here are some practical tips for preparing yourself and your case for success in court and finding ways to increase your chances of getting the outcome you want.
Understand your rights as a father
Every father should be aware of their legal rights as well as the laws in their state regarding child custody. Research what child custody arrangements and visitation rights you have, and if relevant, whether a grandparent or other special persons may be given visitation with your child. Also, read up on how the court system works and how to deal with adversary proceedings related to your case. Additionally, familiarize yourself with any local ordinances or orders nearby that may affect your case. By knowing these ahead of time you can be better prepared for every step of the process.
Gather evidence of good parenting skills
It is important for fathers to be able to demonstrate their parenting skills in court. Evidence can be found through letters of recommendation from family members, teachers, clergy, and former partners as well as statements from your child’s doctor or therapist. Mental health professionals and other witnesses who can speak to your character, values and parenting philosophy should also be considered. Records such as progress reports from school – or any awards given by certain organizations – can attest to your role as a father. Any of these documents should be thoughtfully collected for use in court.
Compile financial information
Financial information can also be a factor in cases involving child custody. Be sure to have full documentation of your income and expenses, such as pay stubs, tax forms or bank statements. If possible, have at least three months of records ready for the court date. This financial information can demonstrate that you are able to provide financially for your children if awarded custody.
Know the strengths and weaknesses of your case
To win your custody case, you need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your own case. Make sure you have a good understanding of both sides and the potential arguments that the other party may make against you. Prepare an outline of all facts, testimonies and evidence in support of, or opposing, your claim for child custody. Knowing when to object or respond in court will be crucial to achieving success during the hearing.
Build your credibility in court
A key part of the custody battle will be proving that you are a trustworthy and responsible parent. Collecting witness statements from those who can vouch for your character is a powerful tool in court. Reach out to family members, colleagues, or even friends to provide positive character references or attest to your good parenting skills. Their testimonies can help foster a favorable impression of you with the judge as they may attest to qualities such as your dependability, attentive care, and trustworthiness.