When a court must decide who receives custody of minor children following a divorce, it considers many things. These aspects help the court determine which parent will be the best caretaker for the children. Fathers can win custody of their children if they understand which factors the courts view as most important and work with their attorneys to prove that they meet the various criteria.
Courts begin by looking at past conduct of each parent. Relevant factors include:
- history of offering adequate childcare
- modeling positive values and morals
- providing appropriate child discipline
- providing the most financial support
- communicating with teachers, physicians, coaches, and other adults
- willingness to sacrifice in the interests of the children
Present conduct is also reviewed including:
- providing the best physical living arrangements
- providing the highest-quality healthcare
- offering and assisting with the highest-quality education
- encouraging healthy eating and good hygiene
- playing with and entertaining the children
Many parents do not realize that their level of cooperation with each other can influence custody decisions. The parent who is most willing to share custody or reexamine the custody arrangement in the future is viewed more favorably. Fathers can win custody if they are more willing to communicate with their spouses regarding these issues. Everything they do should illustrate their desire to act in the best interests of their children.
Courts also assess parental conduct from a future vantage point, determining which parent is most likely to offer the best environment and care over the long-term. They consider certain factors to predict which parent is more likely to adhere to court orders. Courts also assess which parent is most likely to encourage ongoing relationships between the children and the other parent.
On the negative side, courts take a harsh stand with fathers who seek custody for personal benefit or to avoid paying child support. Fathers who are likely to alienate their children from each other or ex-spouses are also viewed negatively. Those who are likely to exhibit negative behavior such as abuse, blatant sexual activity, or use of addictive substances also stand little chance of receiving custody.
Family law attorneys build custody cases around these and other factors. They take many custody cases to court so they understand what the court considers when determining custody. Fathers should view these factors as guidelines for childcare and useful tools for settling custody disagreements. Fathers can win custody by assessing their conduct and having their lawyers present an honest portrayal in court.