Traditionally, obtaining custody rights as a father can prove difficult given the precedent of the court for siding with children’s mothers. Over the last fifteen years, several policies and legal provisions have been put in place to try to counteract this effect and according to a report out of the University of Wisconsin – Madison, these policies have helped to double shared custody cases from 15.8% to 30.5% from 1996 to 2007. The past few years have also seen a significant reduction in defaulting to mothers for sole child custody and an increase in fathers on the receiving end of child support payments.
Nevertheless, the prevailing beliefs that fathers seeking custody are using their children as pawns or trying to avoid paying child support often sway custody decisions away from paternal parties, regardless of the actual relationship the father has with their children. It is usually recommended that, in order to combat these preconceptions, fathers should strive to be the more agreeable party and try to push for shared custody initially. In addition, the University of Wisconsin report found that seeking council with an experienced, local divorce attorney can greatly influence the outcome of a custody case. Divorce-specialized local firms will tend to be more familiar with the current legal precedent for custody and provide very valuable insights that can mean the difference between a win and a loss in cases like these. In the end, though, the children are the most important party, according to divorce lawyers Holmes, Diggs, Eames & Sadler. Their opinions and the relationships they have with their parents are going to influence rulings more than any other factor.