fatherWhat does a father do when a custody battle looms? The answer is NOT “nothing”. Divorce changes the roles for everyone, especially in traditional families. So fathers who may have relied on the children’s mother to take on certain roles must learn to be involved in those activities as well. Where once the father may have relied on the mother to fill him in on the children’s orthodontist appointment and the size of the child’s shoes, now the father must learn to do those things for himself. Some divorced parents refuse to exchange this kind of information post-divorce, forcing each parent to fend for him or herself even more.

If a custody case is looming, where the parents cannot reach an agreement about co-parenting their children after they are no longer together, the father in a traditional relationship must quickly get up to speed on the details of the children that the mother used to address.

Here are some tips for fathers in custody disputes from Tips for Fathers from Divorcemag.com :

Get familiar with your children’s school. This can be done at anytime. Start tomorrow if you can.

  • Know the name of your child’s teachers.
  • Visit your child’s school.
  • Meet with their teacher.
  • Arrange to meet the teacher monthly if your child needs additional attention and you want to stay abreast of progress.
  • Know how they are doing in school…are they turning in homework, are they doing well, how are they getting along with the other kids, Do they seem happy or sad or quiet now that things are changing at home?
  • Let the teacher know that they can call you at anytime at that you are 100 percent interested in how your child is doing.
  • Sign up to be a chaperone on a field trip… just one if it’s not really your time or you don’t have time. It gives the teachers a chance to know you in a more child centered social setting and gives you an opportunity to shine as a parent to both the teachers and your child.
  • Make sure the school has your address and contact info if it has changed.
  • Make sure you are on the emergency contact list.
  • Make sure you are set up in their system to get report cards, notices etc.

Medical Providers

  • Know the name and location of your child’s doctor’s, dentists, therapists etc.
  • Try to attend routine checkups if you can. If Mom is still the primary scheduler, ask her to schedule the annual checks ups at a time when you can both attend.
  • For appointments that occur during your parenting time, plan to take them to the visits yourself as often as you can.
  • Purpose to introduce yourself to all of their providers even if they do not have check ups in the near future.
  • Let their providers know they can contact you anytime and that you are 100 percent interested in how your child is doing.
  • If your child has ongoing scheduled treatments, ask questions and get up to date on the treatment plan and follow your child’s progress.
  • Make sure the medical provider has your address and contact info if it has changed.
  • Make sure you are on the emergency contact list.
  • Make sure you are set up in their system to get appointment notices etc.
  • Some medical providers do not like to be involved in bitter custody battles so keep them out of the fighting. You just want to be an informed, involved Dad. You don’t need to bad mouth Mom to do this. Just be your best you!

Agreed Upon Extracurricular Activities

  • Know what activities they are signed up for.
  • Meet the coaches and the ballet teachers and the tutors.
  • Take them to practices that occur during your parenting time.
  • Attend their activities, games and performances whether they occur during your parenting time or not. This is an an awesome opportunity to see your kid outside of your regular parenting time and enjoy their football games or their recitals. To avoid the tension between you and Mom, introduce yourself to other lone Dad’s at the games and still cheer your child on. By doing this you communicate that your child STILL has his or her two biggest fans and that you are both still on their team!
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Photo of Michelle O'Neil Michelle O'Neil

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes…

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes genuine compassion for her client’s difficulties, yet she can be relentless when in pursuit of a client’s goals. One judge said of Ms. O’Neil, “She cannot be out-gunned, out-briefed, or out-lawyered!”

Family Law Specialist

Ms. O’Neil became a board-certified family law specialist by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 1997 and has maintained her certification since that time. While representing clients in litigation before the trial court is an important part of her practice, Ms. O’Neil also handles appellate matters in the trial court, courts of appeals and Texas Supreme Court. Lawyers frequently consult with Ms. O’Neil on their litigation cases about specialized legal issues requiring particularized attention both at the trial court and appellate levels. This gives her a unique perspective and depth of perception that benefits both her litigation and appellate clients.

Top Lawyers in Texas and America

Ms. O’Neil has been named to the list of Texas SuperLawyers for many years, 2011-2018, a peer-voted honor given to only about 5% of the lawyers in the state of Texas. In 2014-2018, Ms. O’Neil received the special honor of being named by Texas SuperLawyers as one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers in Texas, Top 100 Lawyers in Texas, and Top 100 Lawyers in DFW. She was named one of the Best Lawyers in America for 2016 and received an “A-V” peer review rating by Martindale-Hubbell Legal Directories for the highest quality legal ability and ethical standards.

Author and Speaker

A noted author, Ms. O’Neil released her second book Basics of Texas Divorce Law in November 2010, with a second edition released in 2013, and a third edition expected in 2015.  Her first book, All About Texas Law and Kids, was published in September 2009 by Texas Lawyer Press. In 2012, Ms. O’Neil co-authored the booklets What You Need To Know About Common Law Marriage In Texas and Social Study Evaluations.  The State Bar of Texas and other providers of continuing education for attorneys frequently enlist Ms. O’Neil to provide instruction to attorneys on topics of her expertise in the family law arena.