When you get married, the last thing on your mind is dealing with a divorce, especially once you have children. But as the years go by no one is perfect and sometimes it’s better to part ways.
Divorce can catch kids in the crossfire, with either parent trying to “win” them over their former partner. There are no winners in these situations, but plenty of victims. The goal is to minimize the damage that your children experience while protecting your parental rights throughout the process.
Here are some tips to help you get through the divorce process while protecting your parental rights.
Rights and Responsibilities You Should Consider
When raising kids we often tell them that rights come with responsibilities. The courts view parenting the same way. When you think about your parental rights, you sometimes can forget about the responsibilities that come with those rights, too.
The discussion of legal rights and responsibilities encompasses many things, including physical custody and visitation alongside legal decisions such as education, medical care, and religious upbringing.
There is also the consideration of financial responsibility. The courts believe both parents should contribute financially to the upbringing of their children. They have a specific and objective formula for determining who will pay a certain amount of child support.
Be Wary of Agreements
Men have commonly fallen prey by unwittingly making agreements in the beginning stages of a divorce. Many do so because they want to make the transition easier on their kids, and yes, even their former spouse.
Unfortunately, when we make these agreements, you weaken your position in the eyes of the court. Think about an easy agreement at the beginning, like letting the kids stay with mom while things get sorted out, that might not fall in your favor with the courts later on.
Unless there is some major legal complication, both parents start equal in the eyes of the law. However, every decision you make and every compromise you agree to affects how the courts decide.
Unless otherwise advised by an attorney, stay firm to an equal share of responsibilities and rights. As part of the process, you will either work to reach a suitable agreement regarding physical and legal custody or the judge will make a determination based on a number of factors.
Keep Detailed Records
Anytime you deal with the legal system, records are your friend. With regard to your children, there are many things you want to keep in a detailed journal.
First, keep a record of any time your former partner inhibits your ability to see your children according to the agreement or court order. This includes being late, being early, changing dates, or refusing to allow you to see your kids.
Also, keep records of the calls you have with your former spouse. As hard as it may be, keep a level head and use a calm voice on the phone. Assume she is keeping records, too, and that she may even be recording your calls.
Either during or after each call you should make notes about what you discussed and what was agreed upon. This is especially important when it comes to parenting issues like school performance, extracurricular activities, discipline, and anything else that is not specified in writing already. Be sure to keep notes about any times your former spouse fails to abide by what you both agreed to.
It’s also common, as unfortunate as it is, for some parents to vent frustration, anger, or even hate about their former spouse to the kids. This puts kids in a horrible position, feeling like they have to choose sides.
First, be careful not to indulge in the temptation to do this. Second, keep it in your records when you hear first-hand negative things about you in front of the kids or when the kids tell you your ex has said something.
Don’t Listen to Negative Stories
It’s very easy to succumb to the perception that as a father you are at a disadvantage in the courts. Keep in mind that every situation is different and that the court takes each situation into account before rendering a decision.
Ignore your friends and people you encounter online who have experienced or heard horror stories. This will only build your own negative emotions prior to a court’s decision and will hurt you and your children in the long run. Rather, surround yourself with people who will support you through the process who encourage you to keep working to be the parent you want to be.
Find The Right Advocate
One of the best things you can do to help win a divorce case is to find a qualified legal advocate, like the team at Stacey Schmidt Law Firm. Be sure to interview the attorney with whom you may be working to ensure that not only are they a specialist, but that you feel confident that they share your desire for continuing as an involved parent.
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