child custody

8 Tips To Help Dads Prepare For A Custody Battle

child custodyWhen it comes to child custody battles, the deck is often stacked against dads. There are numerous gender stereotypes that work against fathers in all family law matters, but they seem especially pronounced in child custody issues.

The unfortunate reality is that child custody is the practice area of divorce that tends to cause the most heated disagreements. Divorce can impact nearly every aspect of your life, but matters such as property division and spousal support pale in comparison to the relationship you have with your kids. Far too frequently, dads are relegated to a secondary parent role when custody is determined.

If you are a father facing divorce and an ensuing child custody battle, it is best to take steps so that you are prepared for what lies ahead.

Contact a child custody attorney

The single most important thing you can do to prepare for your child custody case is to hire a family law attorney who focuses on fathers’ rights.

There are a number of different factors you should consider when choosing a divorce lawyer, but first and foremost you need to make sure you find an attorney who understands the specific challenges men and fathers face in family law.

Fortunately, there are law firms out there, such as Cordell & Cordell, that are solely dedicated to providing dads the legal guidance and resources they need during the divorce process. These fathers’ rights attorneys are well-versed in the child custody statutes in your jurisdiction and equipped to navigate the treacherous minefield of custody battles you are likely to face.

Cordell & Cordell understands the concerns men face during divorce.

Pay attention to details

If you are seeking sole custody or joint custody, it is vital that you show you are invested and engaged in your child’s life. This means knowing everything from your child’s school schedule to the names of their best friends.

As their dad, this is likely information you already know, but do not leave it to chance. A judge can tell the difference between a father who is intimately involved with his child’s life versus a dad who is a passive participant in it.

Don’t confide in your child

Divorce is such an emotionally trying time that many fathers find themselves desperate for a listening ear to vent their frustrations to. But no matter how stressful your divorce gets or how frustrated you get with your ex, do not rant and rave to your child.

Trashing your ex in front of your child can potentially lead to parental alienation, which is incredibly damaging. It can also badly hurt your child custody case. If a judge finds out that you are using your child as a therapist and turning them against their mother, they are likely to question whether you truly have their best interest in mind.

It is important not to keep things bottled up as you are going through the divorce process, but talk to a friend, a trusted family member, or a mental health professional such as a therapist or counselor. Leave the kids out of it.

Stay civil

When a marriage falls apart, it is difficult to avoid having some hard feelings towards your ex. However, regardless of what you think of her, it is for the best if you two can work together to have an amicable relationship post-divorce.

After divorce, you might wish to never even see your ex again, but that is not realistic when you have children. Although you are no longer husband and wife, you are still both co-parents and you are going to need to communicate on some level as you raise your child.

Review some of the best practices for effective co-parenting and try to implement as many of them as possible. Of course, good co-parenting is somewhat dependent on cooperation from your ex, and that is out of your control. If your ex is especially disagreeable, consider utilizing a parallel parenting model of co-parenting to avoid conflict.

Keep notes

It is a good idea to start keeping a journal recording important names, dates, places, and people in the lives of your children. You should also detail any negative behaviors from your ex that could help your case, such as engaging in alienating behavior.

Make sure you list precise times and dates. Attention to detail, or lack thereof, can make or break you child custody case.

Understand your state’s child custody laws

Child custody laws can vary substantially from state to state, so one of the first things you should do is familiarize yourself with the custody statutes in your jurisdiction.

Paying attention to the fine print is tedious, but it is the only way to know what you are up against before your child custody hearing. Reading up on the latest custody laws can also help you figure out a list of questions to ask your divorce lawyer as your court date nears.

Follow proper courtroom etiquette

If you hope to win child custody you have to make sure you behave appropriately in court and follow correct protocols. Talk with your attorney about what is expected on the day of your hearing. It might even be a good idea to do some roleplaying with your divorce attorney ahead of time to ensure that you understand the expectations prior to your court appearance.

You will also want to make sure you dress appropriately to make a positive impression. Typically, you will want to wear something formal that conveys that you are well put together and a responsible adult.

Monitor social media

When you are in the midst of a child custody battle, it is for the best to shut down your social media accounts across the board. There is not much upside to having those accounts open during this time.

Whatever you do, do not post any details about your case. You should be very careful about all the content that you post because it is very easy for someone to form the wrong impression without proper context. For example, you might post a picture of you and your friends having a couple drinks and the opposing party could use that photo as evidence that you are partying too much and not a responsible parent.

A temporary social media blackout is really for the best.

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surviving divorce

3 Tips To Survive (And Thrive) After Divorce

surviving divorceSurviving divorce is no easy task no matter how tough you are. According to the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, divorce is the second-most stressful life event behind only the death of a spouse or child.

Divorce recovery is a process that takes a lot of time and meticulous self-care. It is a process that oftentimes takes guys longer to bounce back from than women.

There are numerous factors that make moving on after divorce so difficult. When you get married and start a family, you think you have your future figured out, but divorce flips your plans upside down, forcing you to start from scratch and rebuild many of the most important aspects of your life.

However, surviving divorce is possible, no matter how nasty things get between you and your ex. Divorce recovery is a slow process, but with patience, focus, and really hard intentional work, you can do it.

Here are some tips and strategies that should help you figure out how to cope with divorce and avoid post-divorce depression.

Focus on being a great dad

One of the toughest parts of divorce for fathers is that too often dads get the short end of the stick in child custody decisions. Despite the shared parenting movement’s enormous progress, many judges still default to automatically awarding primary custody to mothers.

This is why it is important at the very beginning of the divorce process to get in touch with a family law attorney who focuses on fathers’ rights. Divorce is uniquely challenging for dads, so you should make sure you hire an attorney who understands what you are facing.

Cordell & Cordell understands the concerns men face during divorce.

Regardless of what your child custody arrangement ends up looking like, you should use the time during and following a divorce to focus on becoming the best father you can possibly be for your children.

Doing everything you can to ensure your children have an active and engaged father involved in their lives is one of the best things you can do to offset the negative impact divorce can have on children. While research shows that children of divorce are at risk for an array of negative consequences, the root cause of those ramifications has more to do with how the divorce affects their relationship with their parents rather than the event of divorce itself.

Depending on the age of your children, they might initially end up with some hard feelings toward you after your divorce. It is possible they blame you for the breakup and harbor resentment. It is critical for you to acknowledge the emotions they are feeling and give them an outlet to vent, whether that is to you, a trusted family member, or counselor.

By encouraging open communication and honesty, you can start to rebuild trust with your children.

Another big part of being a good father to your children in the aftermath of divorce is working with your ex to establish a strong co-parenting relationship. This can be particularly tough if your divorce was not amicable. Even if you and your ex have hard feelings, you need to agree to put your differences aside so that you can effectively co-parent. Your children’s well-being should be the top priority for both of you.

Effective co-parenting requires clear communication, flexibility, and cooperation. If your ex refuses to cooperate, you might need to consider a parallel parenting arrangement, which is a high-conflict co-parenting model designed to shield children from whatever disagreements their parents might have.

If you are unable to obtain a 50/50 custody arrangement and are only allotted a limited amount of parenting time or visitation, then you will need to do what you can to make the most of the amount of time you do have with your children. With such a limited amount of time, it might be tempting to try to turn every outing into a special occasion, but avoid becoming a “Disneyland Dad” and instead concentrate on building meaningful connections with your kids.

Take care of your health

The stress and emotional turmoil of the divorce process results in some very serious health risks for guys. Divorce increases the rate of early mortality for men by up to 250 percent. Studies show divorced men have increased rates of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, depression, suicide, substance abuse, and cancer.

Divorce is so draining that it becomes very easy to shut down. At the end of the day, you might just want to crash on the couch with some beer, pizza, and Netflix.

There is nothing wrong with taking an occasional night to regroup and veg on the recliner, but don’t make that habitual.

There is a very strong relationship between body and mind, and exercise is proven to be one of the best reducers of stress and anxiety. So hit the gym, go for a bike ride, walk around the park, or even jump into a pick-up basketball game with some buddies. Just make sure you are staying physically active, even when you do not feel like it.

You also will want to make sure your diet doesn’t tank. According to a study published in Social Science & Medicine, male nutrition tends to decline after breakups. If your wife did all the cooking in your relationship then you will need to learn how to cook healthy meals for yourself.

Just as important as keeping yourself physically fit is looking after your mental health. Many guys battle depression and anxiety after going through a divorce. These are issues that can spiral if you fail to get the support that you need.

Some men really struggle opening up about their relationship issues, so it might be worth enlisting the help of a licensed mental health professional. You also might consider taking up practicing mindfulness and daily mediation, as it is widely considered one of the best ways to cope with stress and anxiety.

Personal development

Striving to become a better parent and taking care of your physical and mental health all tie into the larger picture of overall personal development.

When you were married, your relationship with your spouse probably formed an enormous part of your identity. That all changes after divorce, but it also presents an opportunity for you to really focus on self-improvement.

Now that you are single, you likely have more time to take up new hobbies that you always wanted to try. In addition to doing everything possible to become a better dad, you also can devote tremendous energy to advancing your career and putting yourself in a better financial position moving forward.

The key to personal development is identifying specific areas of your life that need improvement and then coming up with a realistic strategy to make progress. So if career success is a goal of yours, maybe there is a promotion you can work for. If you feel getting into better shape is important for you, then set a weight-loss goal. Just make sure you are taking steps to keep your life moving in a positive direction.

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back to school divorce tips

Transitioning Your Kids Back To School After Divorce

back to school divorce tipsAs the summer is beginning to wind down a new school year is approaching too quickly. Between living in two different places to trying to figure out the new shared time schedule, your child is experiencing a slew of changes.

Stability should be the most important concern you have for your child as you both take on this upcoming academic year.

These are four tips to help you and your kid wrangle the post-divorce changes before tackling the school year together.

Communicate with your ex and your kids

Instead of living as a family, your kids are splitting time between you and your ex, so communicating with everyone is crucial. This includes staying in contact with your ex. Put your feelings aside and don’t play games, because at the end of the day, the most important person is the child and their well-being.

Share information with each other and coordinate schedules so you can both be in the loop. It is important to keep consistent house rules for the kids to follow. Although one parent may want to seem like the carefree more relaxed parent, this does not benefit your children in the long run. They are experiencing so much change because of the divorce, so consistency and stability is crucial during this time of adjustment.

This separation does not only impact you and your ex, but your kids too. Communicate with your children and make sure they are doing okay. Talk to them about their feelings and how this split could be affecting them. Open communication can better assess how they are handling this change and counsel them through any roadblocks and problems they might be experiencing.

Keep a calendar

Your time is being split between your work schedule and sharing time with your kids, so dates can get confusing. Navigating these different schedules becomes increasingly difficult once the kids go back to school.

Using Google Calendar, smartphone calendars, or a planner can be helpful to organize everyone’s schedule. Dance recitals, science fairs, sports practices, and school assemblies are just a few of the many events dads need to keep track of.

It is important to share this calendar with both parties so everyone has the information they need. Whether it is figuring out the carpool schedule to remembering parent-teacher conference, it is necessary to keep both households in the loop.

Cordell & Cordell understands the concerns men face during divorce.

Update the teachers

The word family just became a lot more complicated in your children’s lives. Let the teachers know what the situation is. You do not need to give them details, but updating them on the family dynamic and schedule differences keeps the teacher informed of the changes going on in their students’ lives.

They can keep an eye out for behavioral inconsistency or academic problems if issues were to arise. Sometimes teachers might even give the student two sets of textbooks, so they do not have to worry about hauling them to both parents’ houses.

Split the school supplies

It is impractical for both parents to buy two sets of school supplies. Financially, it is unnecessary, and the child will end up with a pile of supplies they do not need. It is best to share the list and the price with your ex. The money will not be split exactly, but this is a good way for Mom and Dad to share and compromise.

It is smart to buy extra supplies of the basics such as pens, pencils, folders, etc., so the kids do not have to carry everything to both houses.

Your children’s well-being and their academic development should be your priorities. Both you and your spouse need to put your adversities aside for the benefit of your children. From focusing on their studies to improving their social development, these four tips will help you and your kids stay organized and maintain healthy relationships.

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divorced dad activities

Fun Summer Activities For Divorced Dads

divorced dad activities

Divorce is never an easy undertaking. Family bonds feel broken and children are confused. Divorce can strain the relationship kids have with their fathers.

It is important for dads to come up with ideas for activities that allow them to not only have fun, but to stay connected with their children after going through so much change.

Summer is the perfect time for dads and kids to strengthen their bonds while also having fun.

Here are five enjoyable activities divorced dads can partake in with their kids.

Go to a baseball game

Baseball is the ultimate summer sport to watch and a great way for a child to bond with their dad. Whether it’s a ballpark hotdog or some homerun fireworks, there is always something to enjoy.

This can be a relatively inexpensive outing with some cheap upper tier stadium seats and a great view of the stadium. Dads have the opportunity to bond with their kids by teaching them about this old sport. Staying up late and watching your favorite team go into the 10th inning establishes a lifelong memory between a father and their child.

Weekly breakfasts dates

During and after the process of a divorce, a child might have a harder time opening up and communicating how they feel. They are constantly surrounded with change in their developing lives. New routines, new living situations and a change in parenting are a few of the many transitions a child is facing.

Creating a sense of normalness and a routine can be beneficial during this time of change. That is why weekly breakfast dates can be an important activity for a father and child to partake in. This date can be turned into a weekly routine and a way for a child’s life to feel more stable.

Having a conversation over a stack of chocolate chip pancakes and a glass of orange juice creates an outlet for communication which is essential in a kid’s evolving life.

Gameday Coffee is a charity organization dedicated to helping dads build stronger relationships with their kids. The organization is based on the simple premise that small gestures from fathers, such as sharing a cup of coffee, can make a profound impact on the lives of their children.

“It’s quality time,” said Cordell & Cordell CEO Scott Trout. “… That’s something that is not just useful, but intentional and purposeful, and I think that’s part of being a great dad. … It is getting into a routine of an intentional and purposeful relationship with your kid.”

Cordell & Cordell understands the concerns men face during divorce.

Go to the water park

Summer and water activities go hand in hand. Waterparks are a nice way for everyone to cool off during the heat-filled months of June through August. Whether you float down the lazy river together or race on the waterslides, these heat-quenching activities allow for some fun memories to be made.

If waterparks are not bountiful venues near you, a trip to the community swimming pool or even fun in the sprinklers are some great alternative options. These fun experiences are a good way to tire out the kids while making lasting memories.

Go to the movies

Coming up with new and exciting activities can be difficult. Sometimes the scorching weather can be too much to handle and deters you from wanting to venture outside. That is why the air-conditioned movie theaters are always an easy activity to partake in. Sitting next to each other in the oversized plush theater seats and sharing a tub of popcorn is fun and relaxing.

If you want to save some money, turning your living room into a home theater is a good option. You can always count on Netflix, On-Demand and Hulu to be stocked with the new and old must-see movies.

Go on a bike ride

No matter what age your child is, a bike ride is always an enjoyable summer adventure to participate in. You and your child have the opportunity to explore different bike trails or urban scenery.

If your kid is too young to ride a bike, there are plenty of other options including bike trailers and rear-mounted child seats. Even teaching your kid how to ride a bike without training wheels is a fun and memorable father-child bonding experience.

If your child is capable of riding on their own, biking on trails or sidewalks are enjoyable adventures to engage in. This exercise-enabling activity not only fosters a bond between a father and child, but a positive memory as well. It is also a great way for you to

It is crucial for dads to maintain a healthy and positive relationship with their children. It can be difficult for a child to communicate and open up about their feelings, but with these five fun summer activities, a dad can have a more hands-on relationship with their children.

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divorced dads

3 Ways To Connect With Your Kids After Your Divorce

divorced dadsThe most heartbreaking aspect of divorce for many fathers is the way in which the process destabilizes the relationship they have with their kids.

Far too often, gender stereotypes within the family court system result in fathers getting the short end of the stick in child custody decisions. Even if a dad manages to gain a 50-50 split, that still is much less parenting time than he enjoyed while married.

With many fathers sidelined to a sort of secondary parent role, the relationship they have with their child starts to suffer. This is even worse if the mother attempts to turn the child against the father through the process of parental alienation.

If you feel your ex is strategically trying to turn your child against you, it might be worth contacting your family law attorney to see if there is anything that can be done. A divorce lawyer focused on father’s rights might be able to prove that a child support modification is in your child’s best interest.

Cordell & Cordell understands the concerns men face during divorce.

After such a traumatic experience as divorce, the child might have lost trust in his or her dad. As challenging as it is, you must do what you can to rebuild that trust and find ways to connect with your child even though you are sharing custody.

Here are some ways for divorced dads to connect with their kids.

Stay engaged

The most important thing any father can do to stay connected with his child after divorce is to stay active and engaged regardless of how much parenting time you are allotted.

Make sure you ask plenty of questions about what is going on at school and in their everyday lives. Encourage them to talk about their worries and what stresses them, including any emotional turmoil they are experiencing because of your divorce.

Find out when they have big events and sporting events going on at school so you can make arrangements to attend and offer your support.

You might be frustrated with the child custody arrangement you received, but that is no excuse to check out. Your child needs an active and engaged father in their life now more than ever.

Find a new shared hobby

You should avoid the temptation of becoming a “Disneyland Dad” after divorce in which you plan some elaborate trip or outing every time your child stays with you, but the period after a divorce is an opportune time to develop some new hobbies that you and your child both enjoy.

Maybe you have always wanted to take your child fishing, or you could try learning how to cook together. Pick any activity you both have an interest in that will encourage one-on-one time in which you can chat and bond with each other.

Be forgiving

Divorce is a scarring experience, not just for you but also for your ex-wife and your child.

Your child’s heartache might cause them to act out and even say some things to you that hurt you. Understand that this is natural. At their age, it is difficult for them to know how to process their emotions. Encourage your child to talk about their feelings. Let them know that it is perfectly fine to feel angry and upset.

By encouraging them to be honest about their emotions, you are getting them one step closer to making it through this transition.

It also is in your best interest to be empathetic toward your ex. This is understandably difficult, especially if your divorce was not amicable. However, she is the mother of your child and it is best if they can maintain a loving and healthy relationship with her. That is a lot easier if they see the two of you working together to effectively co-parent.

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divorced dad

3 Tips To Help Divorced Dads Get Back On Their Feet

divorced dadThere are numerous challenges facing dads after divorce. Getting back on your feet is a difficult process, to say the least.

Many fathers end up with an unfavorable child custody arrangement that limits their access to their children. They also might be shouldered with significant child support and alimony payments that decimate their finances. And of course, there is the emotional anguish and turmoil of going through a breakup coupled with the breakdown of the family.

The combination of these hurdles result in an enormous amount of stress, which can lead to serious health problems. It is a vicious cycle.

Making sure you retain a family law attorney focused on helping men and fathers can alleviate a lot of these issues, but moving on after divorce still is a process.

During this time, it is helpful to take a step back and breathe to assess your situation. As harrowing as the divorce process is, it is not a death sentence. Life will go on. It might take some time, but you can find happiness again.

Here are some tips to help you get back on your feet after a divorce.

Be the best divorced dad possible

Depending on your child custody arrangement, the amount of parenting time you have with your children might be limited. Nonetheless, it is your responsibility to make the most of it.

Be as active and engaged as possible. (Fortunately, that is something modern dads are especially good at doing.) Do not fall into the trap of becoming a “Disneyland Dad” and trying to plan elaborate outings every time your kids stay with you. Instead, focus on the little but meaningful moments that end up being way more impactful in the long run.

Help them with their homework. Talk to them about how they are doing in school. Learn everything about their interests, passions, fears, and frustrations.

More than anything, being a good divorced dad is about remaining as present as possible when you spend time with your children.

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Take time for yourself

Although as a father your No. 1 priority is going to be putting your children’s best interest first, it still is important to take plenty of time for your own self-care.

Self-care means making sure you are eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly. It also means partaking in healthy activities you enjoy that leave you with a sense of fulfillment. In fact, the days following a divorce present a great opportunity to develop new hobbies and explore new interests.

Find someone to talk to

A lot of guys have the natural inclination to clam up when they are going through something stressful or heartbreaking. They might be hurting on the inside, but outside doing everything to maintain an image of toughness or stoicism.

Keeping your emotions bottled up can have disastrous consequences. You are not weak for asking for help or finding someone you trust to discuss your issues with.

One of the reasons divorce is often harder for guys is because they are not as good as women at developing a reliable support group. If you are not comfortable talking about the details of your divorce with friends or family, you should consider enlisting the help of a licensed counselor or therapist.

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