Technically, California courts cannot discriminate against men in custody battles during divorce. That said, in 2013 the United States census reported statistics on all custodial parents in the country with children whose other parent lived in a different home. According to the data collected, 11,069,000 of the custodial parents were mothers and 2,350,000 were fathers. This discrepancy has led to a plethora of studies and op-ed pieces debating its cause.
Ultimately, whether due to gender biases or other factors, fathers are granted physical custody less often than mothers. As a result, many fathers wonder how they can increase their chances of the court granting them custody of a child when it is in the child’s best interest. However, before considering how to get custody of their child, fathers should first understand how the court makes decisions on custody in divorce cases.
How the Court Rules on Custody in Divorce Cases
When a child custody battle reaches court, the judge will make a determination based on the child’s best interests. Specifically, the court will utilize the following information to choose a custodial parent:
- The health, safety, and welfare of the child
- A history of abuse by one parent or any other person seeking custody
- The nature and amount of contact with both parents
- The habitual or continual illegal use of controlled substances or alcohol by either parent (Source)
Before and during a divorce proceeding, it’s important to keep these considerations in mind. In fact, this knowledge alone can be instrumental in helping a deserving parent acquire physical custody of their child.
Divorce Advice for Men Battling for Custody
Believe it or not, despite the negative feelings of divorce, keeping a calm and collected demeanor during a custody battle will prove incredibly helpful. Therefore, the best advice for men dealing with divorce and custody disputes involves communication and self-promotion – not bashing the other parent.
That said, this advice does not stand if the child’s other parent has a history of abuse or drug use, or endangers the child in any other way. Fathers with concrete evidence that awarding custody to the other parent will be detrimental to their child’s development should hire a divorce attorney to ensure protection of their child.
Try Reaching a Compromise
Even if they want sole physical and legal custody of their child, fathers should approach child custody issues with an open mind. If that sounds counterintuitive, consider how one parent’s willingness to compromise is likely to inspire compromise from the other. Therefore, parents should discuss all custodial options.
Discuss the Circumstances in Mediation
Mediation is a powerful tool for divorce. Likewise, mediation for child custody disputes is a great way to reach an agreement out of court. Believe it or not, California law actually requires parents to attend mediation for contested issues pertaining to children. Ultimately, the goal of mediation for child custody disputes is to create a parenting plan in the best interest of the child. In most cases, this plan should promote time spent with both parents. Plus, mediators are trained to offer solutions and/or suggestions to ensure the parenting plan’s success.
Even fathers dead set on sole custody of their children can benefit from mediation. Sometimes, a third party’s presence can make all the difference in a parent’s willingness to compromise. While divorce can stir up animosity and other negative feelings, mediation is intended to set those aside to discuss the issues at hand. As a result, it may help the other parent see the situation from an outside perspective, and agree to the custody plan.
Keep a Detailed Journal and Evidence
Unfortunately, not every child custody dispute will be settled outside of court. As a result, fathers fighting for custody of their children may benefit from compiling evidence to present to the judge. This evidence should demonstrate why their custody arrangement is in the best interest of the child. For example, perhaps a father has recorded all time spent with his child over the course of six months. If he can provide evidence that he spent, say, 75% of his time with his child, the judge may be swayed to grant him sole physical custody.
Create a Concrete Plan
Finally, a father requesting custody of his child should have a concrete plan to present to his spouse and a judge, if needed. Child custody can be one of the most difficult parts of divorce for men. However, a strong plan can show a judge that a father is ready for custody.
Specifically, this plan should outline visitation and support, as well as day-to-day details. For example, where will the child sleep if they live with their father? Further, how will the father provide transportation to extracurricular activities? Will he be home when the children arrive from school? All of these are questions a judge may ask, and the answers do matter.
A People’s Choice Can Help Fathers With Child Custody Orders and Motions
Some custody disputes may require a lawyer’s representation. However, for simpler cases, A People’s Choice is here to help. Our non-attorney services assist parents with completing and filing motions and orders for child custody and visitation. Additionally, we offer low-cost, flat-fee services tailored exactly to our clients’ needs. In fact, our services include all family law matters, so we’re here to help as needed throughout your entire divorce!
A People’s Choice has over 40 years’ experience assisting clients through their California divorces. But don’t take our word for it! Check out the wonderful reputation we’ve established in the community. Then, when you’re ready to get started, contact us online or give us a call at 1-800-747-2780!
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