As a father, you have as much right to be a parent to your child as their mother does. It can be a challenge to enforce your parental rights, however, especially when you’re trying to gain custody of your children. Despite the challenges, that doesn’t mean it is impossible to gain custody as a father. Here are some tips to help you build your case for custody.
1. Pay Your Child Support Payments
If you want custody of your child, it is important to make sure you are current on your child support payments. Failing to keep up with your payments can be interpreted as a lack of interest in raising your child. If you have informal arrangements, it’s important to maintain your own records and proof of payment. If you find yourself struggling to make payments, request a modification.
2. Build a Strong Relationship with Your Child
Even if your child isn’t in your custody, it’s critical to try to maintain a strong relationship with them by calling and visiting whenever possible. Communicating with your child regularly, supporting them at their events, and checking on their progress can help your child feel secure in your relationship and reassure them that you are there for them.
3. Maintain Your Own Records
You will be expected to demonstrate your involvement in your child’s life, so it is important to maintain your own records of your visitation schedule, parenting plans, and other ways you are involved in your child’s life. Developing a parenting plan can help you in court when your child’s custody is being decided.
4. Attend Important Meetings & Events
If you want custody of your child, you need to show commitment to supporting their life, including their important social, educational, religious, and other events. These could be school plays, sports games, baptisms, birthday parties, parent-teacher meetings, and playgroups. The court will interpret this involvement as evidence of a meaningful relationship with your child.
5. Prepare Their Own Space in Your Home
Your child will need their own space in your home. Even if you live in a small apartment, you should try to set aside a special place for your child in your home. The court will want to know about your accommodations during the custody hearing. Be prepared to respond to these inquiries.
6. Have a Plan for Your Child’s Needs
The judge will want to know about your plans for your child’s continuing care and support. Will they have their own space? Do you have the financial resources to support them well? Do you have plans in-place for their education, afterschool activities, child care, and more? You should be ready to articulate your preparations for your child’s care.
7. Be Respectful
Court proceedings can be stressful, but it is important to show appropriate respect towards all involved, including the child’s other parent, the judge, and your child. The judge will use your attitude to help them make the custody decision, so be sure to keep any negative feelings in check.
8. Be Honest with Yourself
We understand how badly you can want custody of your child, but you also need to ask yourself if it’s in your child’s best interest. It’s a fact that you probably have many other responsibilities, such as other children, education, or your career. Your responsibilities may interfere with your ability to take custody of your child, especially if you are seeking full custody. It is important to be honest with yourself about your abilities.
9. Ask Someone Who Has Been There
Experience is an important asset when fighting for custody. It can be helpful to talk to another father who has fought for custody of his child and ask about his experiences. You also should seek the help of an experienced child custody attorney. They will know the ins and outs of custody proceedings and be able to assist you effectively.
10. Consider Alternative Dispute Resolution for Your Custody Case
Mediation or arbitration can be an easier way for fathers to negotiate custody. A court hearing can be stressful and expensive, but many parents can come to an agreement in a mediation session with the guidance of a neutral third party. If these methods fail, you can always escalate your case to a hearing before a judge.
At the Adams Law Firm, we know how difficult it can be for fathers to gain the custody they seek. We are committed to protecting the rights of fathers and helping them remain involved in their child’s life. Backed by more than 35 years of collective experience, our Katy child custody attorneys are here to fight for you. Learn more about our services by scheduling a consultation.