One of the most difficult parts of a divorce or breakup is figuring out how to split time with the children. Furthering that difficulty is the assumption that the mother will automatically have the lion’s share of time with the children, leaving dad with every other weekend or limited time per month. While sometimes work schedules, distance of new homes, and children’s preference interfere with parents enjoying even amounts time with the children, oftentimes it is mistakes made from the moment the split occurs that results in dad getting the short end of the stick.
California law states that its stance as it pertains to child custody is that “frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage” is in the best interest of the child.
So what are dads doing that causes them to lose primary physical custody of their children? Let’s explore:
1) Assuming You’ll Lose
You can’t win something when you go in thinking you’re going to lose. The common misconception is that fathers are less likely to win primary physical custody, so they rarely fight for it to begin with. In fact, if your child’s mother is seeking sole custody, the law is more likely to swing in your favor. Judges frown heavily upon parents who seek to alienate the other parent completely, and are more favorable to parents who seek what’s in the best interest of child—which is usually splitting the amount of time with both parents.
2) Being Passive
In most cases, women are the first to file, which can reap a variety of positive legal benefits. It is always better to avoid being on the defensive side. Being on the defense often means you’ve positioned yourself to have to prove to a family court judge why you’re a better fit. Filing first puts you in the plaintiff’s chair, showing a proactive approach.
3) Violating Visitation or Custody Orders
Because of their sensitive nature, family law matters have a tendency to be drawn out. Because of this, family law judges will often order temporary custody orders until a final ruling can be made. It is imperative that you follow these orders. Even if the mother is given custody and you are given visitation, it is in your and your children’s best interest that you follow the judge’s orders. Let your attorney work for you to get unfair rulings reconsidered.
4) Being an Uncooperative Co-Parent
After a breakup or during divorce it is HARD to play nice with your child’s other parent. Feelings of anger, sadness, and resentment are still fresh and wounds are still raw. But no matter how high your emotions are running it is important that you keep a level head about what custody arrangement is best for your children. If it all possible, try and come to an agreement with your former partner. Judges look better on couples who can set their own feelings aside and put those of the children ahead of everything.
Get an Experienced San Francisco Family Law Attorney
As with all legal matters, the best way to approach your custody case is with an experienced family law attorney by your side who focuses on the field. We understand that any good parent wants to be an essential part of their children’s lives, and fathers are no exception. No matter what stage of your child custody case you are in, we can help. Fenchel Family Law has years of experience negotiating California family law cases and we are here to help you. Give us a call today at (415) 650-1112.