Friday, September 19, 2008

Research on Single Father's Custody Rights

In researching a single father's custody rights, a man quickly learns that his state of residence governs the ultimate outcome. Every state has different rules regarding custody rights for the single parent. Still, there are other contributing factors, and a single father should keep those factors in mind.

Today, some parents sign a Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA) at the time of the divorce. The legal weight of that document depends on its relation to the divorce decree. If it was incorporated into the divorce decree, then the stipulations in the MSA hold a good deal of legal power.

A single father does not always seek full custody of a child. Sometimes he just wants the child for part of the year. He might, for example want to have a child during the school year, with his ex-wife taking care of the child during the summer. One devout Muslim once asked for custody of his child each year during Ramadan.

No request for any form of custody should look like an effort to reduce the level of financial support that the father is offering a child. A single father must make clear to the court that the request for custody has been made in order to increase the number of benefits available to the child. A single father strengthens his position in the eyes of the court, if he agrees to help with transporting the child to and from the home of his ex-wife.

During a request for custody, the court will want to know about any close ties that a father's son or daughter has to the people in the neighborhood, or the people with whom the family comes in contact. Do the children attend religious services while with their father? If so, get proof of that in writing from someone at the place of worship.

Does the father take his children to soccer games or Little League games? Get a statement to that effect from one of the coaches. Does the father take a daughter to dance lessons or to skating lessons; does he pick her up after her drill practice at school? The teachers or drill instructor should be asked to provide written proof that the single father has carried out those responsibilities.

The single father should not plan to launch an all-out campaign for full and final custody of the children. If courts see that a single father does not want to share his children with his ex-wife, they are more apt to award full custody to the children's mother.

The single father needs to pay attention to the wording of his custody request. A single father who says flat out, "I want custody," is less apt to get custody than a single father who says, "I want to spend more time with my children."

Finally, the single father should consider ways to strengthen his request for custody. Sometimes a single father can benefit from having a record of statements made by his ex-wife. A single father might want to purchase an answering machine and a cell phone. In that way the father can record many of the phone calls made by his ex-wife.

If a single father does take that step, then he must be sure to consult with a lawyer before giving any recordings to the court. A lawyer will know best just how a court might view something on the taped statements. Something that the single father views as a point in favor of his request might be seen by the court as evidence that the single father should improve his child care techniques before being given the desired custody.

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