Maryland custody lawyers will admit that a significant majority of the time, the mother is the one who is awarded primary custody of the children after a divorce. This can be disconcerting news for a father who truly believes that his primary custody of the children is in his children’s best interest.
Although the statistics still disfavor fathers in a custody battle, there is cause for hope. According to a recent study, fathers are 10% more likely to be awarded primary custody than they were 10 years ago. These statistics are encouraging because they show that primary custody for the mother is no longer a foregone conclusion. When they enter the courtroom, men theoretically have an equal chance to walk away with primary custody. Why, then, do the statistics disfavor men?
One of the most common pitfalls for men in these situations is their failure to maintain involvement in the child’s daily activities once they become separated from their spouse. Involvement may be in the form of taking the child to or from school, attending the child’s sporting events, recitals, school plays, and doctor’s appointments, or devoting time to one-on-one activities with the child. Any Maryland custody lawyer will advise that the more you are involved in the child’s typical daily activities, the more you tend to demonstrate your aptitude for taking on those responsibilities on a more regular basis.
A second common pitfall that fathers encounter is that they fail to document these efforts. Exhaustive documentation of the efforts you make is more likely to impress upon a judge that you are capable of good parenting than your bare assertion that you will be a good parent. The best way to document your efforts is to keep a log of all the activities you conducted with each child, at what times, and for how long. Additionally, you are encouraged to engage in civil, respectful conversations with the mother of your children about your willingness to be involved. For example, a series of e-mail messages to her in which you volunteer your time and effort to get the children to practices or to and from school can be valuable evidence in your favor when the judge is deciding your custody issue.
Moreover, your ability to be civil can go a long way. Avoid verbal altercations, name-calling, and deliberate violations of her wishes. The dispute is going to be hashed out in the courts or in mediation, and you do not want to arm her with more evidence that tends to show your primary custody would be the wrong choice.
Finally, a common problem for men is that they are forced to leave the marital home and find a new residence. Maryland divorce attorneys know that this can create a strong presumption in favor of your children staying in the marital home, where they are most accustomed and comfortable. It does not have to mean, however, that the children’s place is with their mother. Ensure that your new living arrangement is the type of environment in which a reasonable person (the judge) could envision your child living. If possible and age-appropriate, set up a designated play area for the child and your efforts to do so. Make sure the child has adequate bedroom arrangements that mimic the comfort and security of the marital home.
Her custody doesn’t have to be a foregone conclusion. The right Maryland family law practice can ensure that your paternal rights are protected from any presumptions that fathers are unfit for primary custody. They’re your kids. Fight for your access to them.
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