Fatherhood Through Divorce: An Attorney’s Perspective

Being a dad going through divorce is challenging. Emotions can run high. Courts are not always knowledgeable about dads and the important role they play in their children’s lives. Divorce can be financially taxing, take years to finalize, and can be a lonely experience. Many divorcing dads find themselves unsure of what to do when they find themselves in this situation.

Here is some guidance for divorcing dads about what to do to make the process a little easier from dads who have been through it and attorneys who have helped these dads:

You Relationship with Your Kids

  • Maintain Consistency – Kids need a schedule so they can know what to expect. Set clear expectations and develop a consistent schedule for your kids when they are at your house. This will help them feel secure. 
  • Keep Kids Informed – Make sure you share your custody schedule with your children so they know when they can plan to be with you. You can make a calendar for them if they need a visual. Make sure to give as much advanced notice as possible if a change of plans is unavoidable.
  • Communicate with Your Co-Parent – Stay in touch about parenting issues and what is going on in your kids’ lives. Make sure you can find common ground on issues like education, medical care, and extra-curricular activities. Don’t be left in the dark.
  • Be Understanding – Divorce is a tough process for everyone, and your kids are no exception. Give your children space to express what they are feeling, especially those feelings that they may be more hesitant to share. 
  • Spend Quality Time Together – Give your children you attention, support, and love when you have time with them. You don’t have to do anything fancy or expensive. Just be present when they are with you. 

Content adapted from 5 Tips for How Divorced Dads Can Make the Most of The Parenting Time

Relationship Support

  • Don’t Go it Alone – Consulting legal guidance and considering mediation can help you steer clear or unexpected challenges and expectations, especially in the long-term.
  • Avoid Criticizing Your Ex – Keep your emotions in check and find safe people to work through your own processing with. Don’t resort to talking bad about your ex in front of your children. Criticizing your ex can cause all kinds of issues for your children and in custody issues.
  • Consider Mediation – Mediation can provide an opportunity for both parents to make the best decisions for their children together without having to involve a judge that knows little about the unique situation.
  • Stand Up for Your Rights – Don’t feel intimidated. Make sure you make your wishes known. You do not need to be unkind, but it is important to share your preferences up front. It is much more challenging to change things after initial decisions have been made.

 Content adapted from 7 Rules All Divorced Dads Need to Follow

Legal Considerations

  • Pay Child Support (and keep records) – Regardless of the court’s declaration, provide child support for your children and keep track of what you have paid. Save receipts and copies. 
  • Video Chat/Call Kids – Stay connected with your kids through calls and video chats. Ask your kids about their lives and activities. Keep track of the times that you talked with your children and make notes about your discussion for any future custody issues.
  • Prepare a Space for Your Kids in Your Home – Create a space at your house for your children and be prepared to answer questions about the space. Forethought about preparing for a life with your children can go a long way with the court system. 
  • Beware of Social Media – Social media is a public space and anyone can see what you are posting online. Make sure to portray yourself in a way that reflects what you want people to know about you. 

Content adapted from 10 Child Custody Tips for Fathers 
As a father walking through divorce, it is important to consider how to stay connected with your kids, find relational support, and consider potential legal concerns. Here at Good Dads, we understand that being a divorced dad has more than its fair share of challenges. We are here for you. Check out our website (www.gooddads.com) for more resources and support and please know that you are not alone.

About Author

Amy Fouse, Good Dad’s Project Manager, has a Master of Science degree from Missouri State University in Community Engagement and Resource Management. She has been married to her husband, Steven, for 20 years and is mom to two teenage boys, Corban (age 17) and Nathan (age 14). She has experience working in mental health related positions that spans two decades, including work with local families in crisis and roles in local nonprofit leadership.