The courts are more apt to award joint custody to parents these days, particularly if the divorce is uncontested. However, many believe that the courts still favor the mother and some states are taking steps to fix that. It is also still typical that the mother stays in the children's primary residence even when the parents share custody. These factors can lead fathers to feel that they are fighting an uphill battle.
Many understand that fathers are an important part of growing up, especially in the most traditional roles involving sports and outdoor activities, but now many have the willingness and support from employers to be more involved on a day-to-day basis.
Tips for dads who wish to remain actively involved
Each family's circumstances are different, but these general tips can be helpful and modified with additional input from an attorney:
Do not move out: It is best to stay in the marital residence until there is a judge's order to vacate the premises. Some advise that it is best to take the children with you if you leave, but unless there is a safety issue, the displacement may cause unnecessary stress among the children.
Remain as involved as possible: Participate in all the usual activities as if nothing has changed. This includes things like carpools, family events, school meetings, helping with homework and even bath time. Be sure that schools, doctors, dentists, and caregivers know that you expect to remain involved and informed and be sure that verify that you are listed as an emergency contact for each child with your current contact information. Don't rely on the other parent to keep you informed, and make time to attend your child's Doctor and Dentist appointments yourself. If you are the parent who scheduled the appointment, be sure to timely inform the other parent, just as you would want them to inform you.
Keep a calendar: This will help you keep track of all the activities and responsibilities you want to be involved in, particularly if your spouse no longer feels the need to remind you or inform you of changes. Be mindful of your work schedule, how much time you realistically have available and how much you or your spouse travel for work. A lack of flexibility in a father's schedule can work against him.
Keep your eye on the goal: It is important to remember that you are working towards a goal of meaningful involvement in your children's lives, so protect your parental rights but do not get caught up in unnecessary squabbles.
Speak with an attorney: A Board-Certified Family Law expert attorney who works in Collin County, Dallas County, Denton County or elsewhere throughout Texas can help you determine the best course of action for dads who wish to remain actively involved in the lives of their children. This will include strategies for before, during and after the divorce.