4 Things Every Dad Needs To Know About Child Custody

Father figures come in many forms, and now more than ever, it’s important to acknowledge the various types of dads that exist in today’s society. Today’s modern families include divorced dads, unmarried dads, dads in same-sex or inter-racial relationships, and dads who are trying to establish legal parentage—all of whom have parental rights that need to be protected. The Law Office of Tiffany M. Hughes, one of Chicagoland’s top Family Law firms, specializes in matters of divorce and child custody.

While the firm handles all types of marital separation, Hughes herself has developed an outstanding reputation for ability to manage High Asset Divorces (i.e. clients with a high net worth, multiple streams of income and/or a complicated portfolio of holdings.) 

For fathers who are considering divorce or are concerned about potential encroachment on their parental rights, Tiffany recommends considering the following:

The Father’s Role in a Child’s Life

Studies have shown the impact of a father’s presence in a child’s life goes beyond guidance and protection. Having two actively engaged parents leads to fewer developmental delays and higher self-esteem than if only one parent is around. Children with involved fathers are more likely to have complete their education (kids without dads in their lives are twice as likely to drop out of high school,) avoid drugs and alcohol and stay out of trouble.

The Fight is Hard, But Not Impossible

Father’s seeking custody face an uphill battle of biases, prejudices, and stereotypes that lead family court systems to grant the mother with majority custody and access to the child. Men are just as qualified and caring as their counterparts and have just as much parental rights to their children as the mother does. A strategic, thoughtful, and proactive approach is imperative for fathers in a divorce or custody dispute.

Start Protecting Your Rights As Soon As Possible

If you are considering a divorce, it’s never too early to begin planning for ways to protect your child and your role in their life. One way to insulate your child from the situation is by taking care NOT to argue with or speak poorly of your spouse in your child’s presence.  If you’re in a situation where your spouse continues to bait you, insult you or tries to use the child(ren) as leverage, make sure to document those occurrences.  Dates and details of your estranged partner’s problematic behavior may become important evidence as custody is negotiated. 

The Difference Between Legal & Physical Custody

Legal custody pertains to the authority to make important decisions regarding your children such as medical, educational, extracurricular activities, religious life, and more. Physical custody refers to the actual care & residence of the children. With physical custody, parents will either share joint physical custody or one party will be awarded “primary physical custody.” The terms of legal and physical custody will have to be decided, as well as which parent has tie-breaking authority in each category.