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What should involved dads know about fathers’ rights in divorce?

What should involved dads know about fathers' rights in divorce?

If you're a dad with kids and a divorce is in your future, you may be wondering if it's true that even actively involved fathers face huge obstacles in child custody and visitation determinations. Do divorce courts automatically award the primary physical custody and the majority of time with the kids to mothers? Fathers have rights, too, along with deep and abiding love for their children.

The good news is that family courts across the nation are very sensitive to the issue. While disparities do remain, courts no longer ignore fathers' rights, especially when dads have been actively involved in parenting their kids all along. They're committed to the principle that, in the vast majority of cases, it's in the best interest of children to have strong relationships with both parents.

Even so, it's not advisable to just let things fall out as they may. Dads can and should take active steps from the beginning to ensure they get a truly fair portion of custody and parenting time. A Huffington Post divorce lawyer and blogger recently posted some astute tips about how dads can promote their parenting goals during a divorce. There are too many to summarize here, but here are a few of the active steps she suggested fathers take now to ensure they get plenty of time with their kids in the future:

Focus on your custody and parenting time goals from the very beginning. Get a divorce lawyer who understands that fathers’ rights are just as essential as mothers’ -- and knows how dads end up getting minimized. It’s an uphill battle to increase your parenting time later, so get the plan in place now. Divorce judges want to know what’s in the best interest of your kids, so demonstrate how involved you are in their lives -- and how spending lots of time with you is good for them.

Draw up a proposed schedule in calendar form. The visual aid of a calendar helps keep ideas like “every other weekend and alternate Wednesdays” out of the discussion.

Never bring up child support during custody and parenting time discussions. Right or wrong, some people will think you want additional time with your children so you can pay less child support. While the time you’ll each spend with the kids may be taken into account in determining child support, you can’t afford to give the impression you’re willing to trade parenting time for money.

Remember: divorce is temporary, but parenting is forever. Now is the time to ensure that you and your kids will have plenty of happy time together in the future.

Source: Huffington Post blog, "Custody Battles: The Top Five Things Dads Should Know Before Setting Foot in Court," Morghan Leia Richardson, May 23, 2013

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