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How To Divorce: How Do I Get Joint Custody?

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Wondering how to get joint custody? Here's what you need to know, from divorce lawyer Joseph E. Cordell, the author of the author of "Your Civil War: A Father's Guide to Winning Child Custody" and "The 10 Stupidest Mistakes Men Make When Facing Divorce." Have questions? Ask in the comments.

If you are about to begin a child custody case, you need to familiarize yourself with the phrase “the best interests of the child.”

Almost every state determines child custody and parenting time issues based on the "best interests of the child" standard.

State statutes and case law define this standard differently, but in general there are certain factors and themes that appear in the majority of states.

Child Custody Laws: How Does Your State Decide Custody?

In general, factors in the child custody analysis will include your relationship with your children and your spouse, who the primary caregiver was during your marriage, the length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity, the moral fitness of the parties involved, the home, school, and community record of the child, and any other factor considered by the court to be relevant to your family.

The best advice anyone could give a dad preparing for a custody battle is to become as active as possible in the lives of your children and to document everything.

Throughout the divorce process, realize that the court will evaluate your behavior in its entirety, taking into account not only the facts of the case, but also your demeanor. Irrational and aggressive behavior may have a profoundly detrimental effect on your case, so be mindful of your actions throughout the proceedings.

My most recent book “The 10 Stupidest Mistakes Men Make When Facing Divorce” illustrates common blunders dads make that adversely affect their custody chances (e.g., moving out of the home, neglecting the children, etc.).

A crucial aspect that a dad frequently overlooks is the need to at least have joint legal custody if he is not likely to obtain primary physical custody of the child. Legal custody refers to a parent's decision-making rights regarding a child's health, education, and welfare. By exercising the veto power granted by joint legal custody, the dad can put the brakes on unilateral decisions the mom may be inclined to make respecting major issues.

In the absence of primary physical custody, joint legal custody becomes an important mechanism to prevent the mom from reducing the father to a child support ATM and glorified every-other-weekend babysitter.

Joseph Cordell is the Principal Partner of Cordell & Cordell, a nationwide domestic litigation firm focused on men's family law matters. Cordell & Cordell also provides a website dedicated to informing men on the divorce process and the challenges they face. Visit dadsdivorce.com for more information.

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