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Custody Advice

Understanding Visitation Rights for Fathers

Understanding visitation rights for fathers is paramount to helping you get the most of your time with your kids. You can follow certain steps to maximize the amount of time you literally have. Once a schedule has been set, your goal is to squeeze the most out of it

After a Judge Decides Your Visitation Schedule

Few experiences take as much out of you as fighting in court, before a judge you’ve never met, for your God-given rights to be with your children. You’ve likely talked about all of it ahead of time with your attorney.

Then, the decision comes down. From here on out, you’ll see your children, the same people you’ve tucked in at night, every night, on a schedule. And none of it makes any sense.

Once you’ve reached this point, you’ll be met with two choices:

  1. Either you can keep fighting for custody of your kids
  2. Or, you can make the absolute most of the time you have with them

The decision is yours.

But before you start scheming, plotting, and hiring Magnum, PI to dig up dirt on your ex, think. It’s likely that nothing will come of it. And drawn-out custody battles only hurt your kids in the end.

Generally speaking, unless your ex is a raging alcoholic with a criminal record or an abuser, odds are your continued litigious efforts will all be for naught. Mom usually gets managing conservatorship over your kids. You’ll be named the non-custodial parent.

Why?

Well, a lot of it has to do with biology. Mom went through the pregnancy. Mom birthed your offspring. Mom gets dibs, right? Not necessarily. There was a time when this happened semi-automatically. And in the good ole South, it’s still what judges will prefer.

Maximizing Your Time with Your Kids

Litigating aside, what can you do to be an actual, real part of your kids’ lives — even if you’re not physically there 24/7?

Kids don’t care about the brand new shoes you got them for school. They couldn’t care less about the gaming system in the end. Games and toys and things are just that. They aren’t you! So what do they want from you? That’s easy, man! They want you!

The amount of time you spend with your brood is nowhere near as important as what you do with it. If you’re experiencing budgetary constraints, tighten that wallet! Save some cash by planning out your weekend activities to center around you getting plenty of time to talk to your kids.

If you’re trying to figure out how to steer your ship of life through the lives of teenagers, get them on their level. Meet your teens on common ground.

  • Video chat with them regularly
  • Traveling? Turn the camera around and show them your surroundings
  • If they’re of dating age, bring the significant other around, too

But if you’re having a rough time with your teenage daughter, don’t quit. Underneath all the angst that comes with this part of growing up, she’s still there. She’s still the little girl who wouldn’t let you go when you arrived home from working a long hard day.

Teens are territorial. Give her a space within your home that’s just for her. She’ll respond almost immediately!

A Child’s Years Don’t Last Forever

If you do nothing else, show up for them. Keep your kids in your center of gaze. You need to see them in order to prioritize their needs over your own. So, go out of your way to do so by:

  • Offer to take your kids to doctor’s appointments and regular checkups
  • Show up to support them at sporting events
  • Join the band parents and get involved
  • Show up uninvited at school plays
  • Arrange your schedule so you’ll take a later lunch in the day a few times a week and spend that time with them

Going out of your way is not at all convenient. It’s not supposed to be. A good dad, a phenomenal Dad, does whatever he has to for his brood. The harder, the more laborious, the more time-consuming, there he’ll be!

Your kids won’t be kids for long. You’ll soon watch them cross the graduating stage. What will you say then if you waited that long to grow up?

Sit down. Write a letter right now to your son or daughter to hand over to them on that day! In it, be the best version of yourself, the best dad, and lay it all out. Are you proud? Do you still see their chubby baby cheeks smiling back at you from under that cap and gown? Let them know!

Because it’s all so finite, so short, be there! Maximize your child visitation rights by actually visiting your child.

Remain on good terms with your ex. Doing so will keep her on your side. Don’t bring up the past. It no longer matters. Instead, offer to drive your kids home and save her a trip when you can. It’s simply a win-win!

Keep Records in Case You Need Them in Court

And if despite all you do, you can’t get proper access to your kids, keep records of everything! Embrace technology to help you do it.

Simply make it a habit to correspond with your ex via email, text message, etc from the get-go. Not only do you keep a record of all your efforts to be a good parent, you may be able to document any problems coming from her side.

Just make sure that you don’t get caught out yourself by writing something stupid or offensive. Always imagine that anything you write could be read by a judge or police officer at a later time.

Be a Phenomenal Dad!

Cultivating your relationship with your children (whether you’re married or not) is your responsibility! No one can connect with your kids for you. You’re irreplaceable.

Maximizing child visitation is your job. You have to make the most of every minute you get to be with your children. They’ll only be that young once. Teens can be an issue. But it’s one that’ll only last for a while. You’ll need to be there through it if you want your kid to take you seriously.

Buying them stuff won’t matter. Any favorable attention you get won’t last any longer than the sneakers will remain clean. Take care of their emotional needs along with their finances and learning requirements. Be THAT GUY!

Keep your relationship with your ex light and upbeat. Offer to help out with your kids where and when you can.

But, above all, hang on to your little ones. Do it even when you don’t want to, even when you’re tired. Keep them close to your heart. Love them freely!

Categories
Custody Advice

Child Custody: Big Picture Advice

Seeking help before you start fighting child custody offers many benefits to parents and children. Most situations are rather benign and an amicable arrangement is achievable with little outside help.

Of course, if the situation is intractable, you may need advice or help from a professional. Remember, knowledge is power. If you need help figuring out how to approach your child custody situation, here are some things that you might want to keep in mind.

Family Law is a Specialist Area

Make sure you are working with a competent attorney. When it comes to disputes over custody, having a lawyer that is well versed in the workings of the Family Court is essential. A “regular” lawyer isn’t always your best bet in this case.

You will benefit from having someone who exclusively practices family and custody issues. These attorneys are far more familiar with the operations of Family Court (which is quite unlike Criminal or Civil Court).

Ideally, you want an attorney who is knowledgeable about working with children and knows what judges look for when they make decisions about what is best for the children.

You will be better off by hiring someone who has great knowledge of how to work with Child and Family Services as well. They should be experienced with working with the Department and facilitating mediation and cooperative decision making.

Consider Joint Custody Arrangements

What about trying joint custody? You may be surprised at the number of possibilities in joint custody.

  • Some joint custody arrangements work by splitting a child’s time exactly 50/50 between his parents.
  • Other arrangements include one parent doing the majority of the time while the other parent has visitation rights periodically.

Most judges will want you to at least consider joint custody unless there is an immediate danger. If you are seeking help for child custody, you should be ready to consider it.

A custody schedule is generally considered to be joint physical custody if the child or children spend at least 35% of their time with each parent. In contrast, an unequal split, such as 70/30 custody or 80/20, means you have a custodial parent and a non-custodial parent.

Cooperate with the Other Parent

Whatever you do, try to cooperate with the other parent of your children. This will make you both look better if you have to take the matter to court.

Look at things from their perspective. On the other hand, do not automatically give into their wishes or let them have their way either.

It is important, however, that you try to meet the parent’s needs or expectations if it is safe for your children to do so. Because, in the end, it is not about winning a prize for beating the other person. But it is about what is best for the kids.

A long-term focus is important as well. You are in this together until the child reaches adulthood, and beyond. What works for you when your child is a toddler may not be so great when they’re in their teens.

Parents who are thrilled to win sole custody when their child is small may have regrets later when they struggle to get a night off from child-minding duties. Parenting is a long and difficult task; one that is made much easier by parents sharing the load and maintaining smooth relations with each other.

Seek Child-Focused Knowledge and Advice

There are many reasons to seek child custody help. Regardless why you are, remember two things. First, remember that your child’s best interest are priority. And remember that knowledge is power.

Don’t be reluctant to get breakup and custody help!