Why is it that men, who are good fathers and genuinely care about their children, too often come out of court with less time with their child? After hearing stories like this from a number of men, I began to see patterns relating to money, adultery and more.
Now I work even harder to help these clients avoid the following custody court pitfalls:
Focus on Money
These dads tell me that the whole reason they work is so that they can provide a better life for their children. They’re proud of the home and opportunities they can provide to their children, things they may not have had themselves growing up.
However, if the mom has less money, then money talk in court can be seen as putting the mom down, even when this isn’t the intended message. Some judges think these dads are focused on monetary things, rather than on the emotional connection with the child, which in many cases isn’t true.
As a lawyer, I think it’s important for the dads I represent to tell the judge what life is like for the children when the children are in his care. I work with my clients to make sure this message is positive and free of criticism about the mom. I ensure that we propose this as just one small reason for why children should spend more time with their dad.
Records for the Children
I’ve had many clients who don’t realize that they, as the dad, have a right to their children’s records, even if the mom has been the one taking the child the doctors, or signing off on school records.
If a dad shows up in court completely unfamiliar with a child’s medical concerns or problems in school, they’ll unintentionally hurt their case. I encourage these dads to become familiar with the children’s records, and make sure they’re taking an active role in making decisions about their children’s health care and education.
Too Many Bad Dads
I have many male clients who are wonderful dads and want what’s best for their children. Unfortunately, every judge and lawyer who handles custody cases see dads who are seeking custody for all the wrong reasons.
Many men are shocked when they learn how much they have to pay in child support, and assume (incorrectly) that if they have the child fifty percent of the time, then they automatically do not have to pay child support. Judges are on the lookout for these dads and I work hard to make sure my clients are not labeled in a similar way.
Focus on Adultery or Mom’s New Boyfriend
Many of my male clients are concerned that their children are being exposed to the paramour of the mother’s new boyfriend, which is valid. However, if that’s the first concern voiced by a dad in court, the dad runs the risk of being labeled as the jealous ex-husband; more concerned about who the mom is sleeping with than the well-being of their child.
Custody judges don’t care whether the mom committed adultery, and don’t care about hearing why the parents separated. A judge may be interested to hear evidence of the child being exposed to sexual activity or meeting a brand new boyfriend, so I make sure my clients don’t come across as angry, petty, or anything but an advocate for their children. I reassure my clients that custody orders have prohibitions about overnight guests not related by blood or marriage.
An experienced custody attorney can help dads deliver the right message; one that expresses their desire to have more time with their children in a way in that judges will understand.
About Nanda Davis
Nanda always knew the courtroom was where she wanted to spend her career and has made a name for herself as one of the top choices among the women practicing family law and criminal defense in Roanoke, Virginia. She’s the owner of Davis Law Practice and her clients appreciate her empathy and commitment throughout the entire process. She helps them make the best decision for them and their family, and is always willing to go to trial to achieve the best result for her clients. Originally from northern Virgina, Nanda graduated magna cum laude from the George Mason University School of Law in 2012, and graduated from the University of Virginia in 2008. Nanda is the Vice President of the Salem Roanoke County Bar Association, and the President of the Roanoke chapter of the Virginia Women Attorney’s Association.
View all posts by Nanda Davis here.
It’s so sad when families break apart but it happens all the time and you are so right most times the dad get the dirty end of the stick so to speak.I believe there should be real conversation between the judge and the partners so he gets the whole story !!
This was a great post! So many times I see good men that don’t get to see their children as much as they would like. Good job!