When it comes to your rights as a father, determining and solidifying your custody rights is extremely important, especially in a custody battle. Between primary custody, child support, and simple visitation schedules, the legal process can seem overwhelming. Your children are extremely important to you and taking care of them is part of being a father. To ensure that you have a successful custody case, proper preparation, along with understanding your case, is the easiest way to ensure you properly advocate for your parental rights in court.
What Is Paternity?
Traditionally determined by DNA testing, paternity is used as a way to establish biological kinship between a father and his children. By proving and solidifying this link, paternity testing ensures that a father is the actual father of a child, which opens up discussions on custody, child support, and visitation. In addition to legal matters that require paternity testing, being able to determine paternity between a father and his child can help clear up any accusations or confusion surrounding the actual parents of a child.
5 Key Steps for Case Preparation
With any court case, being prepared for your appearance is one of the best steps towards feeling confident and ready to take on your legal proceedings. Some of the most important steps to remember when getting ready for your custody case in particular include:
- Staying Calm but Vigilant
Being in the middle of a legal battle can be extremely stressful for you and your child. In order to create a calmer, more productive atmosphere for your case, maintaining a level head throughout your trial can help you stay on top of questioning, allowing you to make well-informed, calm decisions throughout your court appearance. Not only is your appearance important to your reliability in court, the way you react to different behaviors exhibited by your ex-partner or spouse can also affect your trial, so making sure to keep your presentation in mind when speaking is crucial for the outcome of your case.
- Recording Activities
It may sound somewhat arduous, but staying on top of any records or proof of involvement you have in your child’s life can be extremely beneficial for your case. Anything from call logs and visitation schedules to allergy information and medical records can be a substantial indicator for your responsibility as a parent. When it comes to school, any permission slips, report cards, or teacher evaluations signed by you can be used as a way to solidify your involvement with your child in an academic setting. In some cases, if there is a noticeable improvement of your child’s performance at school, this can be used as a way to emphasize your positive impact on their studies, helping out your case.
- Stay Involved
To prove that you’re an active part of your child’s life, making sure to stay on top of any communication or life events, whether that be visitation, school events, or sports games, is extremely important. Your paternity case is more for your child than it is for you, and proving that you make an effort to be active in your child’s life is a substantial benefit to your case. On top of activities like extracurriculars and sports, taking your child to routine appointments like the doctor or dentist are also important, and can prove that you want to take a more active part in your child’s life beyond the “fun stuff,” and proves that you care.
- Gather Witnesses
Some of the best ways to successfully advocate for custody in your case involve using witnesses to testify and prove your commitment to your child. Anyone from teachers and coaches to family can attest to your involvement in your child’s life, especially when trying to prove yourself as an adequate caregiver in a custody battle. For example, if your child plays baseball and their coach can attest to your constant attendance (and support) at their games, this can prove to the court that you not only care about your child, but you take an active role in your child’s personal life and interests.
- Hire a Reputable Attorney Who Knows Fathers’ Rights
One of the best defenses in court is finding an experienced attorney that can accurately advocate your case and argue for your rights. Child custody is a very specific area of practice, and without the proper legal expertise, these cases can become very tricky very fast. Besides having the tact to present your case while supporting you and your family, lawyers who specialize in child custody are experienced with helping you maintain your composure throughout your legal proceedings, helping avoid any unnecessary issues that may come about due to conflicts with your ex or harsh questions from the opposing side.
When to Seek an Attorney
As with any legal proceeding, making sure you have an experienced, competent legal counsel is one of the biggest and strongest parts of your defense. Although child custody laws uphold the premise that custody can be awarded to either parent, the ultimate decision of the court is to place your child with the parent that is deemed more suited to handle their best interests. However, long standing traditions surrounding motherhood have led to an unfair history of placing children with their mothers, and as a father, this is undoubtedly intimidating when going into a custody battle. If you can provide ample evidence proving to the court that you are capable of caring for your child, including examples of how you’ve already had an active hand in your child’s upbringing, you can be confident in your custody request.
Preparing for any court appearance can be extremely stressful, especially when it comes to tricky cases like custody battles. Finding an experienced legal team able to take on your case while simultaneously providing the support needed to get through the stressfulness of a family law case is crucial to creating a productive, fair, and comfortable environment for you and your family. When planning for these decisions, act swiftly and consult with an experienced child custody attorney, giving you and your legal team ample time to compile your case, find your evidence, and help you create an effective case for the courtroom.