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6 tips for fathers facing child custody disputes

Divorce is difficult enough without having to defend yourself to the court as a concerned, competent and caring father.

Unfortunately, child custody disputes arise all too often. Here are six tips to help you develop a strong case and protect your parental rights.

1. Maintain active involvement

Demonstrate that you are actively involved in the life of your child. If the child is young, show that you participate in activities such as feeding, bathing, walking and reading. If your son or daughter is older, become acquainted with the child’s teachers, doctors and coaches. Participate in educational pursuits and extracurricular activities. Spend as much time as you can with your child.

2. Promote other parent involvement

Do not interfere with the relationship between your child and the other parent unless there is good reason to do so, such as child abuse or endangerment issues. Show that you encourage contact and interaction between your child and the other parent.

3. Provide a stable environment

Make sure the home you provide for your child is safe and clean. Show the court that you provide a stable, nurturing environment.

4. Demonstrate dependability

Demonstrate that your child benefits from a routine to which he or she is accustomed. Always be dependable and punctual in dropping off or picking up your child. Keep records of your communications with the other parent that show your reliability.

5. Develop community relationships

Connect with other parents who can witness your interaction with your child. Attend community events involving your son or daughter. Arrange outings with other parents and their children. These parents can serve as witnesses to the relationship you have with your child if the court should require testimony.

6. Retain all communication

Keep a daily journal. Retain all communications between you and the other parent, including emails, voicemails, text messages and handwritten notes. Keep a well-documented, well-organized file of your child support payment history. Keep bank statements and all kinds of receipts. Keep notes of any concerns about domestic violence or abuse in the other household, false allegations and the like. Use this information to assist your attorney in developing a strong case to show that you are a loving father and to protect your rights in a child custody dispute.

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