If you pay close attention to the shows you see on television, movies you see on the big screen and all kinds of books, ads and articles on social media about parenting, you’ll come away with two main impressions: Moms have it tough, while dads are basically either incompetent as parents or uninvolved with their children (or both).
It’s long past the time where that stereotype needs to be put to rest — but it keeps persisting. If you’re heading for a divorce, don’t be surprised if your wife falls back on those tropes to paint you as undeserving of shared custody based on the idea that you have never been an active parent.
You can protect your rights through good records
In Alabama, one of the factors a court considers when deciding custody is the quality of each party’s relationship with the child, including the extent of their involvement in their child’s life.
In practical terms, that means you need to show the court that you are just as involved in your child’s life as your wife. You can do that by:
- Keeping a journal: Write down every time you take care of your child on your own, what you did together and anything important that you want to remember — including things like your child’s favorite subjects in school, their best friend’s name and so on.
- Making yourself visible: Don’t let your wife be the only parent the school ever sees at parent-teacher meetings or school events. The same goes with your child’s extracurricular activities. If your child stays over at a friend’s house, walk them to the door and introduce yourself to whichever parent answers.
- Taking photos: When you spend quality time with your child, memorialize it. Whether you’re hiking a trail or building a volcano for science class, photos create a visual journey of your child’s life — and a visual display of your connection.
- Keeping electronic records: If your child texts or emails you, do not delete the messages. Move them to a special folder for safekeeping so you can show that you’re in regular communication — even if you have to be away.
Your child is precious to you, and you have every right to fight for fair custody. Don’t let ridiculously outdated images of what it means to be a father keep you from asserting your rights.