Going through a divorce is hard enough, but doing so with kids is even harder. There are certain assumptions that most people make when a father mentions going through a divorce though, and these can be indicative of a bigger problem. While many states maintain legal statutes that ensure equal treatment of both parents and use the best interests of the child as their guiding principle, statistical reality doesn't bear out that conclusion, so it's a good idea to plan for those likely scenarios.
Primary Custody vs. Visitation
If you have a just reason to believe that you are the parent best equipped to raise, nurture, and provide for the needs of your children, you'd better gear up for a fight from the outset. Prepare your lawyer in advance, and begin building your case for primary custody even before a separation agreement is drafted. While there are other factors at play of course, courts award primary custody to the father in as few as 8% of custody cases.
If you're not able to press for primary custody, increase your chances of spending time with your children by staying close by their mother. The greater the distance between you and your children's primary residence, the less likely a judge is to agree to longer visitation periods. While you may be limited to weekends and holidays, you'll be close by in the event that one of your kids needs picked up early from school, chaperoned on a field trip or at a dance, or if you just want to take your kids out on a school night.
One of the reasons for father's being awarded custody so infrequently has to do with the amount of hours each week that men traditionally tend to work. As a result, they are also asked to provide additional financial support to their children more frequently. Thankfully for fathers, most states limit support amounts, and base totals on a percentage of your income rather than a fixed dollar amount.
Finalized court documents will often have a monthly support total listed, but be aware that this can only be increased by returning to court and having the official order altered. Regardless of the amount ordered, failure to pay can bring with it steep penalties, including the loss of your driver's license, negative credit impacts, and jail time.
Traditional logic has some catching up to do, but that doesn't mean you don't have a chance to overcome it. Plan ahead, be honest with your attorney about what your ideal outcome is, and educate yourself on the realities of the divorce system. Once you know what you're up against you can plan for the worst while still hoping for the best. Click here for additional info.