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(Part 2) Child Custody Book Released in Support of Equal Parenting Rights and the Importance of Fathers

The following is Part 2 of the full transcript from my interview with a local newspaper in Asheville, NC. This newspaper has over 75,000 readers every week and 800 locations throughout Western North Carolina.

*For the privacy of Erik’s Family and the Son’s Mother, the Author’s last name has not been used in any content. No person’s actual name has referenced throughout our articles or custody guides.

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What other advice do you have for parents?

Unless there are considerable issues that negatively impact the child, I highly recommend parents develop a shared parenting plan rather than going to court. If the Family Court in your jurisdiction have a preference for shared custody, convincing the judge to grant you more than equal time will require considerable proof that it’s in the child’s best interest. This may also increase your expenses exponentially and keep you in the legal process far longer.

Are fathers at an automatic disadvantage when it comes to custody disputes? How?

Men who are approaching a custody dispute may have to live up to a higher standard of behavior. These disputes can ignite some heavy emotions and frustrations in any parent. One angry email or attempt to have firm boundaries can be blown up and presented to the court in an attempt to frame you as a “bully” or a verbally abusive person, but most judges require stronger evidence that demonstrates a pattern of this behavior. According to some attorney’s, a man’s behavior and communication is more often misconstrued as hostile. Fathers need to be especially mindful of their behavior and tone during a dispute.

Another perceived disadvantage is that unmarried fathers must first establish their parental rights over the child before custody matters can be addressed by the courts. Since the mother physically gave birth, her parental rights will automatically be recognized and protected. One simple way to establish paternity is to have your name listed as the biological father on your child’s birth certificate or signing an acknowledgment of paternity after the child is born. If paternity is contested it can be determined by the court via a hearing and/or genetic testing.

I have heard heartbreaking stories from fathers in other states where the bias against a father’s capability still lingers in Family Courts, but as more fathers insist on being a part of their child’s life, I think this will begin to shift.

What are some of the psychological and emotional barriers that challenge fathers when they are seeking fair custody arrangements?

Current studies show that mothers still receive primary custody more often, but these studies may not be accounting for the fact that men are still less likely to request custody due to the limiting belief that they cannot win or merely cannot afford to do so. Most of the general public I interviewed during my research agreed that equal custody is preferable, but these same people believe the legal system is still biased, and that perception keeps many fathers at bay.

If a father fears that a judge might be biased, he may settle for any arrangement that offers some time with their child, just to avoid going to court. It’s all too common that a father signs off on an unfair arrangement early on, but this can hurt his chances of securing a more fair arrangement in the future. Children need their fathers to insist on being a significant part of their lives as early as possible.

Who else has supported Fathering Families?

While navigating my own legal process, I discovered a similar heartbreaking custody case that involved Hollywood actor, Jason Patric, who is fighting to be in his son’s life. His organization, Stand up for Gus, aims to raise awareness on the prevalent and damaging effects of Parental Alienation, which he is currently enduring. His organization supports Fathering Families through their strong network.

I also received advice from attorneys that advocate for Fathers’ Rights and shared parenting. Norma Tillman, President of the Tennessee Association of Licensed Private Investigators, was a huge inspiration to me and is now a supporter of the custody guide book. Norma is a successful author of five books and Private Investigator who has helped countless children reconnect with their fathers.

What are your thoughts about the Fathers’ Rights Movement?

When I first started writing this guide book, I found that “Fathers’ Rights”, by nature, was creating divide and did not align with my values of shared parenting. This guide book series that specifically assists fathers during a custody dispute is titled, Fathers’ Rights Simplified, but I’ve developed the organization, Fathering Families, to align with the ongoing resources being developed to help fathers stay connected to their children and learn how to effectively co-parent.

I also feel that many Fathers’ Rights groups tend to focus on the unjustness of the Family Court, instilling fear that the system will eat you alive. There’s always room for improvement, but this kind of cyclical and cynical view of the Family Court tends to deter men completely from seeking help of the courts. It is my hope that more focus is put towards educating parents on how they can amicably come to a resolution that honors both parents and truly benefits the well-being of their child. Although I am an advocate for dedicated fathers, I believe both parents should have liberal time with their child if they are able to provide a healthy environment, physically and emotionally.

Click here to read Part 1 of the interview transcript.

Child Custody Book Released in Support of Equal Parenting Rights and the Importance of Fathers

The following is Part 1 of the full transcript from my interview with a local newspaper in Asheville, NC. This newspaper has over 75,000 readers every week and 800 locations throughout Western North Carolina.

*For the privacy of Erik’s Family and the Son’s Mother, the Author’s last name has not been used in any content. No person’s actual name has referenced throughout our articles or custody guides.

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What issues and subjects does Fathers’ Rights Simplified address that other custody guides do not?

I found that the majority of custody guides cover the broad field of child custody and very little on gathering credible evidence that is vital to a custody dispute. When reading these books during my initial research, I couldn’t reach the level of confidence I desired as a father entering a custody dispute with my child’s future on the line. I was seeking a more concrete approach with current issues and strategies to prepare myself for trial. Enduring a child custody dispute is such an overwhelming experience and the pressure to understand the whole legal process in less than a year can push you to the edge. So, instead of writing a book on all the elements of Family Law, I focused on straightforward steps a parent can take to immediately prepare for their case.

Before retaining my Family Law attorney, I consulted with three other attorneys to learn about fathers’ rights, the legal process, and preparing for trial. During these consultations, they consistently mentioned these “factors” that Family Court judges assess when determining the best interests of the child. Behaviors they like to see parents exhibiting and what can raise red flags. Through my consultations and research of hundreds of case studies, I developed a list of common factors that will either improve or hinder a parent’s likelihood of winning child custody.

Evidence Strategies for Child Custody offers preparation strategies that are centered around the criteria commonly used by Family Court judges. I call this criteria, the “Child Custody Factors”, and once you understand them, you are in better position to effectively gather and organize evidence relative to your case. The book further simplifies the process by outlining what types of evidence are considered credible and persuasive–something that most parents don’t have any clue about.

Is there a changing perception of parental roles that has created a demand for this book?

Yes. The social norms which assume the father to be the breadwinner and deem the home as the mother’s domain are now becoming outdated. We’re seeing a rise in stay-at-home-dads and scenarios where both parents work and take care of the children equally.

Family Courts are recognizing that a parent’s gender does not define their parental roles and capabilities. When making a custody ruling, most Family Court judges are now utilizing a gender-neutral standard, which assesses the child’s best interest. Providing this level ground for parents in a child custody dispute has empowered more fathers to step forward and request joint custody over their child.

The myth that mothers are biologically “better parents” is being challenged more than ever, as the amassing statistics of fatherless-children are demonstrating serious disadvantages and developmental effects, which carry through into adulthood. There has been a recent growth in organizations that advocate for equal custody arrangements and co-parenting plans that support the child in building strong connections with both parents.

When approaching a custody dispute, fathers are realizing that the argument claiming that a father’s parental capabilities are inferior to a mother’s is a weak one. As the divide between parental roles and responsibilities continues to blur, many are recognizing the true value of involved fathers and the tremendous benefits a child receives.

Do you think there is a changing cultural perception of masculinity that has created a generation of fathers who demand to be more involved and a change in the status quo?

Family dynamics have been shifting, which have ultimately affected society’s perception of masculinity and a man’s ability to be a caretaker. However, after many decades of custody rulings that offered fathers only limited time with their children, labeling this quality time as “visitation”, our society still marginalizes fathers as caretakers, either praising them for taking on basic parenting tasks or wondering what happened to their career. Many fathers are now speaking up about the frustrations that come from these stubborn societal expectations and how they no longer apply. When a father is caring for his children, it should be seen as parenting, not “babysitting”.

Countless studies have been published, finding fatherless children to be at least 2-3 times more likely to runaway, abuse drugs, become depressed, be a victim of abuse, or engage in early sexual activity or criminal activity. With these alarming statistics on the rise, it’s becoming more apparent that a man’s contribution as a loving parent is crucial component to a developing child and our society.

What inspired you to create this online resource and write this series?

My initial research on child custody was out of necessity for my own situation, but given the amount of resources and knowledge that I amassed, I quickly realized I could help other parents avoid some unnecessary expenses and not become overwhelmed in the preparation process. My professional work was already in the field of consulting and helping authors self-publish, so applying that to my own experience only made sense.

During my research on fathers in child custody disputes, I was astounded by the effects a father-absent home can have on a child and the rate at which they exist in our society. Making matters worse, I was shocked to discover custody guides that actually encouraged immoral strategies to undermine fathers. Instead of focusing on deceptive strategies, Evidence Strategies for Child Custody helps dedicated fathers counter malicious tactics and assists them in presenting a case that demonstrates their active involvement and commitment as a parent.

Before I filed for custody, I reached out to the greater community and learned that many parents shared similar experiences of disputes after a separation or divorce. While seeking the advice of other parents, I was told that the Family Court judges in Buncombe County valued a father’s involvement and supported equal parenting. I was curious to see how cases were handled first hand and sat through numerous custody hearings before my own trial.

When witnessing families cycle through the Buncombe County Family Courtroom, I did not witness a bias towards either parent, but rather the judges commended parents who put their personal issues aside so that the best interests of their child came first. In contrast, I saw how parents who slandered or made unnecessarily inflammatory remarks about the other parent put their intentions in question. Unless there was clear evidence that demonstrated a child was in danger, the judges gave the parents every opportunity to work out a parenting plan before heading to trial. I believe the Buncombe County Family Court is a good model for how Family Courts can value shared parenting, the importance of fathers, and recognize the tremendous benefits this has on our children and communities.

To further prepare, I read countless case studies on child custody. I discovered that lies and false accusations are rampant in Family Court, often clouding the most important issues in a case and delaying a judge’s ability to determine the best interests of the child. I learned quite a lot about different types of evidence, what’s credible, and how to organize it properly for trial. At the conclusion of our hearing, my attorney turned to me with a smile and said, “I’m going to offer you a job”.

Is this book only for fathers?

Although it’s written from a father’s perspective, the Custody Factors are not gender specific and the evidence strategies can be applied by either parent. The book can help any parent properly prepare for a custody dispute without having to learn the entire legal process. In my case, having the right evidence organized for trial made my attorney’s job much easier during every phase of the case. Regardless of how good a parent you are or how unfit the other parent is, you must be able to demonstrate it by providing credible and compelling evidence.

Click here to read Part 2 of the interview transcript.

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