Many men do not understand their rights and how the laws work for custody and child support. For instance, there is the old belief that children should belong to their mother, and she should have the most say.
There is no gender bias in family court, and fathers have equal rights regarding visitation and custody. Some men also do not understand how child support payments work and may end up going broke, trying to support their children. It is also essential to know what your requirements are as far as disclosing income to the Court; the simple answer is to be honest, and never hide your finances.
There is also knowing your rights and powers when it comes to divorce. Knowing what you can do to protect yourself and your assets is especially important, as many men think that the woman is going to get everything and don’t realize they are losing the battle.
19 Catastrophic Fathers Rights Mistakes Men Make – Learn How to Avoid Them Now
- Stop believing that mothers always win custody of the children. There is no preference for gender in family court.
- Fathers have equal rights regarding visitation, holidays, vacations, and legal matters involving the children.
- Equal rights don’t always mean equal time. You don’t have to have a week on/week off to have joint physical custody of the children. A 60/40 split is enough to be declared a joint physical custodian.
- Don’t let the mother control the decision making for your children. Be involved in decisions regarding your child’s education and medical providers because it is part of legal custody.
- Stop letting the mother dictate how you spend your time with the children. If you want the kids’ bedtime to be at 8:00 pm, if it’s safe and in your children’s best interests, then bedtime is at 8:00 pm.
- The mother cannot tell you whether your new significant other, your mother, or your cousins can spend time with your children. Again, if you are keeping your children safe, you can decide the other adults that can spend time with your kids.
- You are still entitled to joint custody with your children even if you work a full-time job. Parents work. You can’t lose custody just because you have a job.
- If a judge gives you joint custody, use it. Custody is always modifiable until your children turn 18. If you don’t exercise the time, you will lose it.
- Don’t stop seeing your children. If you are no longer living with your ex, see your children. If you don’t see your children at least 40% of the time, the Court could determine the mother has de facto primary physical custody.
- Do not bad mouth your children’s mother to your children. This one should go without saying.
- Get rid of the idea that at a certain age, your children can choose where they want to live. There is no set age where your children get to decide where they want to live! Age is only one factor in child custody cases.
- Avoid he said/she said when it comes to how much time you spend with your children. Keep a journal! Write down each visit, including days and times.
- Stop letting the mother dictate what days and times you can see your children. Document each time you ask to spend time with your children in text or email. Doing this is especially important if your ex tries to deny your parenting time.
- While your case is pending, you should try to keep communication with your ex in writing. There are several parenting communication apps available, including Our Family Wizard, Talking Parents, and App Close.
- Be flexible but insist on getting it in writing. Courts rely on strict enforceable visitation schedules when deciding custody. If you don’t have it in writing with your ex, it will be exceedingly difficult to enforce later. You can always be flexible with your visitation schedule, but to be enforceable, days, times, holidays, exchange locations, and a host of other items must be in your custody agreement.
- Exercise caution if you allow your ex to move out with the children. If you cannot continue to live with your ex and your ex must move with the children, establish a routine and custody schedule immediately. Get it in writing and be prepared to enforce the plan.
- If your ex wants to take the children out of town, clarify that you do not agree to a relocation. It is one thing if your ex wants to visit California with the children. It is another thing if your ex moves to California with the children. If you do not agree to your children relocating to another state, make it clear to your ex, in writing, from the outset, that relocation is off the table.
- Don’t forget the Cooperative Parenting Class. Nevada law requires that parents in custody cases complete a Parenting Class. These classes are available on-line and usually take a few hours. In the end, you get a certificate saying you finished it, which your custody lawyer will need to file into your case. Most parents get to the end of their case, they are ready to settle, the ink is dry on their Decree, and they haven’t taken the class. Guess what? Your family court judge will not finish your class until the certificate of completion is filed. Our advice? Do the class immediately after your case gets filed.
- Get rid of the notion that once the custody case is over, you will no longer need to communicate with your ex. This mindset is insane because you have children. There is going to come a time when you must communicate with her. Develop a habit of communication early to avoid serious problems later. Use a communication app, schedule a monthly phone call, write notes, and put them in a diaper bag but do not avoid communication.
How to Avoid the Top 17 Errors Men Make with Child Support in a Fathers Rights Battle
- Stop believing that fathers will always get ordered to pay mothers child support. Child support gets based on custodial designations (joint vs. primary) and parents’ incomes.
- If you have joint custody of your child, the Court will look at your income and the mom’s income. Whoever makes more will likely pay the lower-earning parent child support.
- Do not ask the judge for an accounting of where your ex is spending your child support money. You won’t get an accounting. Just know that the law presumes that the mother is using the support for the best interests of your child.
- Understand how child support offsets For example, if you pay your child’s health insurance, you might be entitled to a reduction in child support.
- Don’t try to hide income from the Court. Decent child support attorneys will find it and ask that the money you are making “under the table” gets used to calculate child support.
- Know that the Court will consider your overtime and side-jobs in deciding child support.
- Be careful about asking that your ex’s new husband’s income gets used for calculating support because this rarely happens. There are exceptions, but those are exceptions and not the rule.
- Carefully consider agreeing to pay extra-curricular expenses for your child. Instead, use payments for extra-curricular activities as an offset against your child support obligations.
- If your child is attending a private school, you can ask to pay for school instead of child support.
- You will still have to split out of pocket medical expenses with your ex, even if you are paying child support.
- Think twice about asking for reductions because you have other children. If your other children are older, you might get an offset on support; however, if you have an after-born-child, it is less likely your support will get reduced.
- Don’t forget about the child tax credit. Which parent receives the custodial designations primarily determine the credit. For example, if your ex has primary custody, chances are, they will have the tax credit each year; however, this issue can be, and should get negotiated before you finalize any custody or child support agreements.
- Be aware that the child support laws in Nevada changed in 2019. Ensure that your child support accounts for non-medical care for your children, including, but not limited to, eye doctors, orthodontia, dental and psychiatric care.
- Document child support payments and never pay in cash. If you get ordered to pay child support, pay with a check, and get copies. If you are making direct deposit child support payments, make sure the deposit is for child support.
- Do not withhold money from child support as reimbursement for something else. We see many men make this mistake in the case we handle. Child support is child support – plain and simple. Do not deduct the cost of repairing your ex’s car from a child support payment. Not only will you need to make up the missed amount, but you will also likely owe penalties and interest for being late. Pay 100% of your child support every month, on time. If you need reimbursement for something else, talk to your lawyer, or bring a motion to the judge.
- Pay all your child support on-time every month. We don’t know how else to say it but failing to pay your child support or worse, refusing to pay child support, is a signal to your judge that you don’t care about your child and don’t care about the Court rules. If you can’t afford the child support, talk to your lawyer about options for reducing support.
- Pay your child support even if your ex interferes with your custodial time with your child. Like we said above, pay all your child support every month. If your ex is interfering with your custodial time or refusing to allow you contact with your child, talk to your lawyer about your options. Refusing to pay child support, however, is not an option.
- If you have had a change of income, file a child support modification immediately. One of the biggest mistakes we see men make is that they wait to request a change of support, hoping to work it out with their ex. Or even worse, under the mistaken belief that they will get reimbursed overpayments going back to their change in jobs. This mindset is a huge misconception. The judge can only modify your support from when your request to change support gets filed, not to the time your circumstances changed. Change of circumstances in your pay? File your modification request as soon as possible.
Getting Divorced? Discover These 22 Fathers Rights Insider Secrets to Win Your Divorce Case
- Don’t leave the marital residence unless you must. Moving out is one of the single worst things you can do as a man going through a divorce.
- Avoid hostile encounters with your spouse. If an argument is brewing, remove yourself from that situation. Take a walk, leave the room, go to another location until things settle down. Allegations of domestic violence can have severe repercussions for your divorce and your freedom.
- If your spouse is making false allegations of domestic violence against you, or if your spouse is committing domestic violence against you, there is no question. You must move out of the marital residence.
- If you have been paying the expenses associated with the marital residence, you should expect to continue to pay them whether you move out or not.
- Chances are the Court will issue a joint preliminary injunction at the beginning of your divorce case. This injunction means that you must keep everything status quo until the divorce is final or until the judge orders something different.
- Canceling credit cards, refusing to pay the rent, turning off utilities, and taking other adverse actions could be considered a violation of the joint preliminary injunction. You could be held in contempt and might face jail time for doing this.
- Learn about your finances before you file for divorce. Gather tax returns, bank statements, mortgage statements, and other documents. Give them to your divorce lawyer early on in your divorce case.
- If you must leave your home, get a video inventory of each room in your house. You’d be surprised how much of your items might go missing or end up damaged during the divorce process.
- If you have had an affair, rest assured that your divorce judge will not consider adultery unless you have wasted significant assets on an affair.
- Likewise, if your spouse had an affair, the judge would not consider it in dividing your assets and debts unless you can prove your spouse committed community waste.
- Be prepared to divide all your assets and debts, including bank accounts and retirement accounts. If earned during the marriage, chances are it is community property and will get split.
- Keeping your paycheck in a separate bank account does not protect it from being divided in a divorce. Like we said above, if earned during the marriage, chances are it will get divided in the divorce.
- Protect your personal papers like your driver’s license, birth certificate, social security card, and other documents while going through a divorce. We suggest moving them to a friend’s home for safekeeping. Do not leave them in your car!
- It is very tempting to want to keep “the toys.” We suggest that you don’t waste money fighting over depreciating assets. Boats, RVs, and ATVs generally are depreciating assets. Speak with your spouse about selling these types of items or giving them to her outright and using their value as an offset against appreciating assets like the marital residence or 401(k).
- Try to come up with a financial plan before you file for divorce. Write out a balance sheet of all the assets and debts and consider how you would like to see those things divided. In our experience, having a plan early on will assist in saving money during the divorce process. It will allow your divorce attorney a framework for presenting your case to your spouse.
- Don’t forget to separate your mail ASAP! Get a PO Box as soon as you know; divorce is imminent. Even though your spouse may not be a snoop, having a separate mailing address will save you many heartaches. You’d be surprised how much mail goes missing during the divorce process.
- Avoid luxury purchases during the divorce. Purchasing large assets (TVs, cars, taking expensive vacations) can lead to problems during the divorce. First, it almost inevitably results in a judge looking down on you. Second, it might lead the judge to believe you have more money than you do. Finally, it almost inevitably leads to hard feelings with your spouse.
- Don’t forget to protect your future credit score. For example, if you and your spouse have a vehicle in both names that your spouse agrees to take, will your spouse need to refinance the car? How often? What if your ex misses a payment? Add language that your ex agrees to indemnify you and hold you harmless.
- We’ve said it before, and we will repeat it – Do Not Hide Assets. If your divorce judge discovers that you purposefully left an asset out of your divorce (known as an omitted asset), the judge can award 100% of the asset to your ex. You might end up paying your spouse’s lawyer fees for having to uncover the hidden asset and divide it.
- When the divorce is over, don’t forget to update your beneficiaries. Life insurance, 401(k), bank accounts, and any other item that calls for a beneficiary should be immediately updated once your divorce is over. Talk to a qualified and experienced estate planning attorney as soon as possible to protect your estate from any claims your ex may have.
- Let us offer a word about your family pets. First, if you have children that have bonded to your pets, find a way for the pets to travel with the children between homes. Second, if you don’t have children and get divorced, decide who will keep the family dog or how the pets will get divided. If you can’t choose, there is an excellent chance; the judge will order you to sell your beloved pet or give it away. Try to resolve this issue early, as we have seen; many clients spend thousands of dollars on pet custody.
- Try to avoid waiting for the holidays to be over before you file. Most people don’t want to announce their divorce at Thanksgiving dinner or even Christmas thinking they will just wait it out through the holidays and file after the first of the year. This play is a massive mistake for several reasons but let’s address the most significant two: First, you are only delaying the inevitable, and your spouse will be furious that you knew you wanted a divorce and faked it through the holidays. This animosity almost always makes getting a divorce that much more difficult because she feels like you lied, and she can’t trust you. Second, the holidays bring additional stress, which puts everyone on edge. Delaying until after the holidays only makes a bad situation worse and increases a domestic violence incident. Don’t let the calendar dictate when you file for divorce. If the marriage is over, get the divorced filed as soon as possible.
- Be careful about settling your divorce too fast. Many men getting divorced just want it over with and are willing to “give her whatever she wants” only to get past it even if it hurts their fathers rights. We see this often happen, which is a huge mistake and can be very costly in the long run. Make sure you understand the short-term and long-term consequences of any settlement. Talk to your divorce attorney, financial advisor tax professional before agreeing to any settlement.
Fathers Rights: Win the Alimony Battle Too – Avoid These 11 Errors
- Don’t assume that the husband always pays alimony. Alimony is gender-neutral. Judges consider the length of the marriage, the education of the parties, the lifestyle of the parties during the marriage, the need, and the ability to pay. The bottom line? Gender is not a factor, and as a husband getting divorced, you very well could be entitled to alimony.
- When does alimony end? Are there triggering events that might stop your alimony payments? If your ex cohabitates with someone else, will you still have to pay alimony? What if your ex gets a new job or a massive pay raise? What if you lose your job or retire? Of course, by law, alimony ends on the re-marriage of your ex to someone else or upon death, but you need to consider other events that might end alimony. These are negotiable and should always get considered in a divorce.
- The tax rules have changed! Do not agree to pay alimony until you speak with a tax professional. Understand what tax consequences and tax benefits there are to you if you agree to pay alimony.
- Be creative with the division of assets and debts to avoid alimony payments. For example, if you have a significant number of airline miles or hotel points saved, you might be able to trade these things in exchange for alimony payments.
- Consider lump sum alimony before agreeing to any alimony payments. In some cases, paying a lump sum may be faster, cheaper, and less of a hassle than making monthly alimony payments. Talk to your lawyer and a tax professional about the benefits of paying alimony as a lump sum.
- Don’t forget to keep alimony modifiable. Rarely do we have clients agree to make alimony non-modifiable. After all, none of us knows what the future may hold. Will your ex remarry? Will you lose your job? Will your ex win the lottery or get a huge bonus? If any of these are possibilities, ensure your alimony obligations are always modifiable.
- Consider the division of assets and debts in an alimony award. Did your ex take all the household items? Did you give her $50,000 in a bank account? Failing to consider what your wife is getting in the divorce is one of the biggest mistakes you can make when agreeing to alimony.
- Don’t forget to consider your lifestyle during the marriage. While the length of the marriage and the earnings of each spouse are two factors the judge will consider in awarding alimony, another significant factor most men forget is the lifestyle during the marriage. If you always purchased new cars every few years or if you took lavish vacations throughout the marriage, you could end up paying for your ex’s Hawaii trip every year. To avoid this, make sure you keep your expenses low and avoid big purchases before the divorce.
- If you have agreed to pay alimony, do not ever pay your ex in cash. If you have no choice but to pay in cash, get a receipt and write that the payment is for alimony. On checks, write alimony in the memo line. The best practice is to have your ex establish a bank account that is strictly for alimony payments where you can direct deposit each month.
- Don’t make the mistake of supporting your adult children instead of supporting your ex. As a parent of an adult child, I get it. It is exceedingly difficult to tell your adult children that you can’t help them financially. It is a huge moral dilemma. Sadly, it is not a legal one. The judge will not care that you’d prefer to support your adult children than your ex. Your legal responsibilities are to your ex, and chances are the judge will order whatever support you are paying to your adult child, get delivered to your ex as alimony.
- Consider healthcare costs and health insurance when figuring out alimony. If your ex’s insurance covered you, and now you must obtain your own, your gross monthly income will surely go down by the cost of your insurance premiums, and this means less money to pay support. Likewise, if you are looking at receiving alimony from your ex and your ex’s insurance cover, you don’t forget to add in the cost to obtain your insurance once the divorce is final.
How to Win Child Custody for Fathers – Avoid These Horrendous Mistakes When Hiring an Attorney
- Do not agree to anything without talking to a lawyer first. We know this sounds like we just want to sell you our services but trust us here. We see more clients who want us to “fix” what they agreed to before seeking legal advice than any other type of client. Avoid this! Get legal advice early and avoid the time and expense to undo what could amount to a catastrophic, life-altering mistake.
- Start researching lawyers now! If you believe divorce is imminent, you need to talk to divorce lawyers right away. Do not wait to be served divorce papers (you’re already behind at this point). Chances are that your ex is already meeting with attorneys and has possibly even hired one.
- Do not delay filing your divorce case. If you know your marriage is over and that you want a divorce, there is no reason to delay filing unless your lawyer advises you to wait. There are some advantages to filing first, including controlling the pace of litigation and deciding whether the first judge assigned to your case stays or goes.
- Be careful about using the same lawyer as your wife to “draft up your divorce papers.” Most attorneys will not agree to represent both parties in a divorce. If you find a lawyer that is willing to represent both of you, make sure they obtain your consent to waive the actual conflict that exists in representing both parties to the divorce. The reality? Be extremely cautious of any lawyer that says they can represent both of you and be sure the lawyer has your best interests in mind.
- Pre-divorce Mediation is all the rage these days, but you must approach any pre-divorce mediation with caution. Be sure your mediator is a skilled family law attorney and not a paralegal or therapist calling themselves a divorce mediator. The bottom line? Non-family law attorneys do not know the law. You might spend tons of money and time mediating a divorce decree only to have it rejected by your divorce judge. Get a lawyer before you mediate.
- Avoid taking advice from non-lawyers like co-workers, family, and non-lawyer friends. We are sure they mean well, but if you want to win your divorce or custody case, hire a trusted family law attorney.
- Don’t forget to respond to the divorce or custody complaint. One of the biggest mistakes we see men make is refusing to respond to a complaint about divorce or custody with the hope of reconciliation. If you do not reply, your ex wins. It’s that simple. You can always reconcile later, but if you get sued for divorce or custody, you must respond.
- Hire the right attorney for you and your case. We’ve said this many times on many pages on this website; not all lawyers are equal in family law. Some have experience with custody but no experience with high asset divorce cases. Others only handle uncontested divorces. When talking with potential family law attorneys, make sure you feel comfortable with the lawyer you hire and that the lawyer is a good fit for your case.
- Beware of hiring the lawyer with the best internet ratings or the highest retainer. Like we said above, hiring a divorce or custody lawyer isn’t about the lawyer’s resume. It’s about you and your case! Find the lawyer that fits your case.
- Choosing a lawyer based on gender is a huge mistake. Many clients want to meet with Molly only because she is a woman or Kyle only because he is a man. The idea that an attorney’s gender might sway the judge in your favor or help the lawyer better understand your position is a myth. The lawyer’s experience, approach, and knowledge should be the top considerations when hiring an attorney for your case.
- Don’t hire the first lawyer you meet. We know this sounds counterintuitive, and maybe you liked that first attorney. But we often tell potential clients that hiring an attorney is like being in a dating relationship. You will spend lots of time with your lawyer, and your lawyer will know intimate details about your life. Your case could take months or even years to finish. Interview a few lawyers and hire the divorce or custody attorney that you feel the most comfortable with, that fits your budget, and whose strategy most closely aligns with yours.
- The biggest mistake we see men make is hiring their buddy, the personal injury attorney, or insurance defense lawyer. Despite what your friend may think, divorce and custody law is complicated and nuanced. Each judge in the family court likes things done slightly differently, and specific arguments may persuade one judge and turn another judge against you. Hiring an experienced divorce or custody lawyer is critical for the best outcome in your case. Tell your buddy thanks but no thanks. Plus, if you employ your buddy, chances are you won’t be friends when your case is over.
- Get rid of the notion that your divorce lawyer is going to do everything for your fathers rights case. Going through a divorce or custody case requires your active participation. After all, it is your family, your finances, and your stuff. Your lawyer will need your help in gathering documents, coming up with parenting plans, and preparing to divide assets and debts. Lawyers handle the legal part. The rest is up to you.
10 Absolutely Awesome Tips to Help You Win Your Custody Battle for Fathers Case Now
- Do not make threatening statements to your ex or your children. Again, this should go without saying, but we are repeating it because it will hurt your fathers rights. We understand that these are stressful times but threatening your ex or your kids will have severe consequences in your divorce or custody case, and it could land you in jail.
- Keep your opinions, thoughts, and lifestyle off social media. We cannot tell you the number of cases we have where a social media post has ruined our client’s credibility with the judge. Want to win your case? Stay off social media.
- Vengeance has no place in custody or divorce court. Holding on to the air mattress, box fans, or blender just to spite your ex will only cost you in the end. The judge will see you as petty, and we guess that you will pay your lawyer more than any of those items are worth.
- Avoid bringing your new significant other to Court proceedings. It just looks terrible and will only create problems in the long run.
- Try to keep third parties out of your divorce or custody case. While it might seem like a great idea to have your neighbor, best friend, or mother in law “mediate” a resolution, chances are this will only cause problems in the long run and will ruin any relationship you hope to have with these people.
- Shave and get a haircut before your court appearances. You want to appear clean-cut, approachable, and likable to the judge. Getting a haircut and shaving before your court date shows the judge you are taking your case seriously.
- When attending Court hearings, cover tattoos as much as possible. The reality? Many of our judges are old fashioned. This bias goes for piercings too. Remove as many as possible. Again, while this is Las Vegas, most of our family court judges are socially conservative.
- The surest way to lose a divorce or custody case is to argue with or talk back to the judge. Believe it or not, we had a former client tell the judge, as he was walking out of Court, “I’m not going to do anything you say.” This outburst did not go well for our former client, and it ruined any chance he had to win his case. Do your best to keep your emotions in check, and you will have the most excellent chance of succeeding in family court.
- Be careful when discussing legal matters with your ex. The communications you have with your divorce lawyer or custody attorney are confidential, including legal strategy, settlement proposals, and other issues. It is very tempting to want to discuss your case with the person you once trusted most. It is also nice to try to resolve the problems with your ex without lawyers. However, if you reveal communications and strategies to your ex, you have waived the attorney-client privilege and possibly put your legal case in a weaker position.
- Dress appropriately for Court, even if your hearing is on video. In the age of COVID, most Court hearings now get conducted by video. Regardless of whether your hearing is in-person or on video, dress accordingly. You don’t have to go out and buy a designer suit, but a tie and collared shirt doesn’t hurt. Make sure your clothes are clean and pressed. Appearances matter in family court, and dressing for the occasion shows the judge you are taking your case seriously.
- Take time to address your mental and emotional health. Being involved in litigation is hard, and when it involves your family and your finances, it is challenging. It is ok to have bad days, and it is ok to take some time out for yourself. Hang out with friends and family. Take a short trip or enjoy a nice dinner out. Be careful about overspending but don’t forget to spend some time on yourself. At some point, the litigation will end, and your mental and emotional wellbeing needs to take priority.
Fathers Rights – In Conclusion
In the end, divorce and custody battles are never easy. With these tips, you can make it less difficult for yourself, your children, and your former spouse. Remember to know your rights as a parent and as a person going through these proceedings.
While you may have hard feelings towards your ex, please do not share them around your children; she is their parent too. Know what battles to fight and what things you can let go. Once you are finished with the battles of custody and divorce, you can begin healing and moving your life forward.