4 common custody mistakes fathers make

Here is a list of custody mistakes that I see fathers make over and over again. These custody tips describe early-on mistakes they make before their custody case has even begun and they seriously impede their chances of winning custody.

1. Fathers Moving Out of the Home Because Their Ex Asks Them To

Men…please stop doing this. I still cannot understand why so many men just up and leave simply because their wife or girlfriend asks (or tells) them to. You have just as much right (and sometimes more depending on the circumstances) to stay in the home as your soon-to-be-ex (STBX).

Do you realize that if you move out of the home and leave your children there with your stbx, that this can put you at a great disadvantage for winning custody?

Here’s why. Courts like children to have consistency and familiarity in their lives. This is evident in the laws they write for how the court is required to determine custody. Every state will have the following factor (or very similar) as one of the best interests of the child areas they look at for which parent they will give custody to:

The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.

This means that if you stay in the home where the children have already been living, then you will have a better chance of winning custody when this factor is taken into account by the court.

And the more factors you have in your favor, the better you have the chance of winning. Moving out and letting you ex stay with the kids gives here an advantage.

Don’t kowtow to your ex. Stand up for yourself. Tell her that if she doesn’t want you around then she’s perfectly welcome to leave, that you’re not leaving… and the kids are staying with you.

2. Fathers Voluntarily Putting Themselves on Child Support

This is usually something that happens with unmarried fathers. Women and the family court system have brainwashed men into thinking that it’s always the father who should pay.

They tell fathers to go down to the court house and file to put themselves on child support. And its mind boggling that fathers blindly do this all the time without questioning it.

They trick men in to believing that its only going to be temporary. They usually tell them something like this: “Just go ahead and sign up for child support. It’s only temporary while we figure out the custody arrangement.”

Men do not fall for this. Once you put yourself in the system and paying child support, you have set the tone that you are the non-custodial parent. This is how the court will continue to look at you moving forward.

Its hard enough for fathers to win custody without doing this. Now, how hard do you think its going to be to win custody when you have already painted yourself to the court as the non-custodial parent.

Courts like to take the path of least resistance. They like consistency not change. So when it comes time to set custody, time-sharing and child support it’s much easier for the court to go with what is already in place than to do a true evaluation of the situation and change everything.

Put your ex on child support, not yourself. You have just as much right to file for custody and make the mother pay child support to you. Let the court decide who should pay child support. Don’t go and do it yourself.

3. Fathers Not Filing For Custody First

Not filing for custody first, before their ex files is a common mistake fathers make that I continually see over and over again. Too often too many fathers wait around, ignoring the signs that the relationship is over.

When your stbx tells she “needs more time”, do not believe her, chances are she’s lying. The truth is that she has already moved on. She’s leading you into believing there’s a chance you’ll get back together, knowing that you’ll sit on your hands and do nothing waiting for her to make her “decision”.

What she’s really doing is buying herself more time to scheme and plot against you in order to get the upper hand for the custody battle that will ensue. She’s creating her exit strategy and quietly putting it into play… and once she has the foundation laid out for how she’s going take the kids, take the house and half of everything else, she’s going to file and serve you with court papers.

Don’t wait for your ex to file. If she files before you that can give her the upper-hand. She will be the “petitioner” and you will be the “respondent”. Basically she will have put you on your heals and you will be playing defense.

You need to be strategic. You need to file first and put her on the defense. Don not be like so many other fathers that wait to file.

4. Believing Their Ex When She Says: “I’m Only Going To Visit My Mom For A Month”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the story where the mother, takes the kids and tells the father she’s going to go visit her mom (usually in another state) for a while, because she needs some time to think. One month turns into two months, two months into three months… until finally six months rolls around. Then to the surprise of the father, the mother files divorce/custody papers and has the father served. He has no idea what just happened.

Here’s what happened. This was her plan all along. She purposely lied to the father telling him that she just needs some time alone and that everything will be OK. She never had any plans to come home. She wants to take the kids from him but she knows it will be nearly impossible to do that if the case if filed in her state.

Their plan is to keep you strung along that the relationship is salvageable so that you will not file anything. They want to get to that 6 months mark because at that point your child will be considered a resident of that state… and that means the new will have jurisdiction over your child.

If you are unable to get jurisdiction moved back to your state… and you probably won’t… all court hearings will be in the new state. You will need to hire an attorney that is licensed to practice law in that state and you will need to travel there for court hearings. It will get real expensive really fast. And if your stbx gets custody the time-sharing you will get will be very limited. This is why its important you file in your state before your children have been living in another state for six months.

Beware: Here is another way they will also try to pull this off. The mother will send the children out of state to live with their grandparents or an aunt so the couple can “work things out” without the children around. She actually has no intentions of working things out and again in this scenario leads the father on as if everything is OK. She’s just buying time waiting for that magic 6 month mark. She will then announce that she is going to visit the kids for a while. A week later the father is served divorce/custody papers.

The best way to prevent any of this from happening is to never let your stbx take your children out of state. And if she does never trust that she is going to bring them back. Call an attorney and file a motion for temporary custody as soon as possible. Once she is served with the papers jurisdiction of the case will be locked in your state.


Any of these early on custody mistakes can be devastating to your case and very hard to recover from. Not impossible but hard. Now that you know what to look out for don’t fall into any of these traps.