Dos and Don’ts for divorcing dads

By Jeffrey M. Leving

Studies have consistently shown that children are better off when their fathers are involved in their lives. Having two actively engaged parents leads to fewer developmental delays, better educational outcomes, and a lower chance of behavioral problems than if only one parent is present. That being said, the nation's family court system has traditionally been biased in favor of mothers getting custody, or mothers getting much more access to children than fathers. Though I have co-authored family laws in my pursuit of justice, many fathers still face an uphill battle because of preexisting prejudices and stereotypes still present in many people's minds.

This, of course, doesn't mean that dads are never granted custody, nor does it mean that they don't deserve it. It just means that, during a divorce, a father needs to act proactively and strategically in order to protect and assert his rights concerning his children. Though it isn't "fair," a dad often has to argue more persuasively and make more convincing arguments to get results comparable to that of mom. Having an experienced fathers' rights attorney - one who understands what dads are really up against, and what is on the line for the entire family if children lose out on a relationship with their father - is key during any divorce or custody dispute.

Begin protecting your rights as soon as possible

If you are thinking about divorce, it's never too early to start planning ahead for ways to both shield your children from the impact of a split and to ensure that you are able to maintain a quality relationship with them after the proverbial dust has settled. Remember: your children's mother is divorcing you, not your children, and you and your children deserve the many benefits offered by a close father-child relationship.

This is where your attitude can make a huge difference: as hard as it may seem, do your very best to take the "high road" during the divorce. Yes, you need to be willing to aggressively assert your rights, and you need to safeguard and insulate your children from any bitterness in order to do that. If your spouse baits you into shouting matches in front of the children, uses the children to relay messages, or "bad-mouths" you when they are around, inform your attorney immediately. Focus on your children, and be the type of dad you want to be for them; don't give up hope.

You may not think that your attitude and actions during the divorce would make a difference where the custody of your children is concerned, but it actually can. Custody is awarded based on the "best interests" of the child: it is certainly in a child's best interests for a quality, positive relationship with his or her father to be protected, and if your spouse is emotionally abusive or manipulative, the judge will be much more likely to limit the time the children spend with her. By being positive, responsible and cooperative, you will greatly increase your chances of success.

Success ultimately depends not only on how you act, though, but on the case you present to the judge deciding any custody disputes if you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement on your own. By understanding what your legal rights actually are, and by arguing strenuously and strategically to protect those rights, you can likely protect the invaluable relationship you have with your children. Show the court that you are serious about maintaining a quality life with your children after a split from their mother with the law firm of Jeffrey M. Leving, Ltd. Call me toll free in the Chicago area at 866-683-9611 or locally at 312-702-0862, or contact me online.