Divorce is never happy experience, and it can be all the harder when there’s a child or children involved. All too often both divorcing parents fight over who gets to have full custody of their child. Fact is, while a divorce is going on, each parent has equal legal rights to child custody. Or so states, Brides.com. Mother and father are by law considered on a level playing field when it comes to custody, until one of the parties either gives up full custody or is denied custody by a judge in a court of law. 

One of the major problems with child custody is the perceived cultural notion that mothers are the better, more natural parent of a young child. That’s why many divorcing fathers tend to give up full or even shared custody since they buy into a gender bias. In other words, when it comes to divorce proceedings, they feel the mother will always win in the end. Or they may simply give up on custody because, emotionally speaking, kids need their mother more than their father. This type of thinking only serves to hurt the father in both the short and long term, since it can severely limit or even eliminate altogether the time a father spends with his child or children. 

But as a father, you really won’t know if a gender bias exists in the divorce court system unless you take legal action to fight for equal time with your child. Any father who doesn’t fight for father’s rights is doing himself and his child a great injustice, says Brides.com. Although the rules on child custody differ from state to state (the rules in New York and California, for instance, overwhelmingly favor the mother), if you are a father who is being denied time with his child, you should seek out an attorney who is willing to take on your case, and avoid one who believes you don’t have a chance just because of existing state laws.    

That’s said, here are 5 issues a father needs to seriously consider if they wish to share equal parenting time after a divorce is finalized: 

Create a Record

You need to document all the times you were not permitted to see your child or children by your ex-wife. This record will be crucial evidence in a court of law, and it’s quite possible the legal system, even if it favors the mother, could end up holding her accountable for obstructing your parenting time. 

Hire a Lawyer

Once you have created a comprehensive record of obstruction on the part of the mother, you must hire an attorney who will file a pro se petition with the court. The end goal is to establish equal parenting time with your child.  

Financial Concerns

It’s important to get your financial situation in order. Not only will a child custody battle be expensive, the court will insist you prove you possess the financial means to properly care for a child or children. In any case, potential legal costs should not prohibit you from fighting for time with your kids. But if you don’t have the financial means to pay for a lawyer to represent you, seek out organizations that can defend you for free or for a nominal fee.    

Avoid Mediation

Some divorcing parents might get tired of the legal fight and the exorbitant costs associated with it, and therefore decide to enter into mediation. Mediation means it’s possible you will compromise on the time you wish to spend with your child. What a father must always bear in mind is that once a legal custody agreement is struck in writing, it’s very hard to start over. What you need to do is remain strong in your belief in father’s rights right from the start, and fight the court battle until you receive a satisfactory parenting time outcome.

Don’t Buy into the Negativity

If you are considering entering into a legal custody battle with your ex, you will have plenty of people who will tell you the fight is impossible and/or that it’s a fool’s errand. But you should believe in your rights as a father. According to Brides.com, just because many fathers before you have been denied custody of their children doesn’t mean you won’t be granted at least some form of custody and parenting time. 

Divorce is a nasty business and it can be even nastier when a child or children are involved. As a father, you should fight for equal custody of your child right from the start of the legal battle. If you give up your rights as a father just because you feel it’s in the best interest of the child to be with his or her mother, it will be hard, but not necessarily impossible, to repetition the court for at least some custody after your divorce has been finalized.