The false and often depressing narrative peddled by the extremists of the mens rights movement says that women almost always get custody of the children, while fathers get none. It’s a way to support the myth that courts are inherently biased towards mothers when it comes to custody of the children. It’s easy to claim bias in the courts when all you report on are the negative stories concerning fathers losing their children and ignore the other side of the coin completely.
This narrative is of course not helpful to men who have recently become separated from their ex’s and who are seeking positive advice and support regarding child custody. How depressing must it be for a father to keep reading story after story about men losing everything and never seeing their children? How can that possibly motivate any man to do what is necessary in order to create the best possible outcome for himself and his children in court? When faced with a mountain you do not need to be told it is impossible to climb it, but rather encouraged to conquer it because it is truly not impossible to do if you are positively motivated and well equipped.
Instead of telling men that there is no hope we prefer to focus on the positive and provide fathers with the tools necessary to create the best possible outcome in court. Providing encouragement and support to men facing custody battles is essential if we want to see more men gain custody and see their children have happy, involved and active fathers in their lives – something we all know has been shown to not only be beneficial but crucial for a child’s overall well-being.
I personally know 3 men who have full custody of their children and the mothers were never deemed incompetent by the court, nor did any of them have drug or mental problems. In fact the courts ruled in the father’s favor in each of those cases because the judge followed the standard of the ‘best interests of the child’ and found that the fathers were indeed the better caregivers in each case based on a variety of factors such as the father’s overall involvement with the child, consistency with their child, and their detailed and professional presentation of themselves and their documentation in court – meticulous record keeping and consistency in child support payments when they were apart from their children in the interim before the court hearings, and maintaining constant contact with their children via recorded/documented phone calls and visits in the interim as well.
Each of these fathers followed simple and well planned steps in order to prove to the courts that they were indeed the better parent when it came to the best interests of the child. They had the upper hand because they went to court prepared and confident. They did not let any personal negative feelings towards the mother cloud their judgement or allow those feelings to provoke any emotional outbursts both inside or outside the courts. They maintained a mature and calm demeanor throughout the whole process – from the time they separated from the mother until the last court hearing, and even beyond that point. To this day they consider their children to be the most important things in their lives and refuse to allow anything the mother says or does to provoke them in any way. They maintain a certain level of professionalism, if we can call it that, for the sake of their children at all times.
The greatest obstacle to any parent gaining custody of a child is their emotions. When you allow your emotions to take over, it is easy to lose perspective quickly and to devolve into petty arguments and self destructive behavior with your ex which will only work to their advantage, and not yours when it comes time to face the judge.
A clear head and a constant focus on the end goal of gaining custody of your children is absolutely essential. This point cannot be stressed enough. You must refrain from allowing anything to cloud your judgment or to evoke negative emotions or behavior towards your ex. This of course is not an easy task, but it can be accomplished when you remind yourself that custody of your children is ultimately at stake, and that any momentary outburst, no matter how small, will only serve to your ex’s advantage, which is what some exes want.
There are many steps you need to take when preparing for a custody hearing. Plenty of research, reading, and planning is required, even if you have a lawyer representing you. The more prepared you are the greater your advantage, regardless of whether or not you have legal representation or not. Do not rely solely on a lawyer to solve everything for you. It is easy to become lazy in preparation for a court hearing when you have a lawyer because the assumption is that the lawyer will take care of everything for you. This is not the case, as the lawyer who represents you has to present all the documentation that you are able to provide them. The more information and documentation you can provide them with, the better. Your lawyer will not do it for you, nor can they. You have to stay on your toes regardless of your being legally represented or not. Leaving it all to a lawyer, not communicating with them on an almost daily basis, and doing nothing on your own will most assuredly work to ensure that your ex gains custody of the children no matter how much you pay the lawyer – they can only present the facts you give them, and the more you give them to work with, the better case you’ll have.
We know the percentage of women with full custody is indeed higher than men, but it does not necessarily mean there is a bias in the courts. There are many individual factors that play crucial roles in each and every one of those individual cases, so to say it is always based on court bias is not only presumptuous, but dangerous. If you accept that the bias argument is true you are already creating a huge roadblock for yourself which will effect your ability to motivate yourself to keep moving forward in a positive and constructive way. True or not, men need to let go of the narrative that the courts are ‘out to get men’, or that ‘women always get the kids no matter what you do’- in essence, you will need a little faith, misplaced or not. Stop hurting your chances of success by buying into the negative narrative that is promoted by extremists and focus on what you can do to challenge that narrative.
Remember, only you have the power to influence your outcome, be it in either a negative or positive way. The choices you make from the moment you separate from your ex is crucial, and will be one of the greatest factors in the judges ruling for your child’s custody. Ignoring the negative narrative and concentrating on yourself, your children, and working to put forth the best case you possibly can for the courts is what is most important.
It is possible to overcome the negative narrative. You are the one who possesses the power to decide how much effort you are willing to put into challenging it and overcoming it. The instances of fathers gaining custody is changing because fathers are beginning to stand up for themselves in court by taking the initiative and work as hard as they can to be amply prepared to prove that they are, and always have been actively and positively involved with their children, and that they are ultimately only concerned with the best interests of their children by doing things that clearly demonstrate and convey those facts in court.
The bottom line is that you should never let your emotions cloud your judgement or ability to fight in positive ways for custody of your children. Stay away from negative narratives and destructive sources of information. Surround yourself with positive people and supportive, accurate information. Educate yourself as much as you can on how you can present a solid case to the judge that you are indeed an important part of your child’s life and vice-versa, and actively engage in positive behaviors to keep yourself focused and on track.
There are no guarantees in life, or in court, but the fact is that not preparing, and not being methodical is to assure you lose custody, or are otherwise hurt in court. The odds may, in fact, be long. The deck may seem stacked against you. Those aren’t reasons to up before you even step into the court.