Navigating Divorce for Florida Stay-At-Home Dads

Navigating your divorce in any circumstance and life stage is very difficult. Navigating your divorce as a stay-at-home dad often comes with its own unique difficulties and challenges. The unique divorce difficulties that come with stay-at-home fatherhood result from the fact that, traditionally, women have been the stay-at-home parent and so the court typically grants child custody to the woman. Stay-at-home fathers, however, are questioning their custody rights in this matter, since they have been the ones staying home and caring for the children.

Traditionally, if any parent stays at home with the children, it is the mother. A doctrine known as the "Tender Years" stated that all children under the age of thirteen should remain with their mothers in the event of separation and divorce. These days have long passed but many still hold that mindset. The court system in place today is supposed to be gender-neutral in making decisions but this simply is not always the case. This is why it is crucial to seek counsel from a men-only family law firm.

When it comes to decisions about child custody, the court's job is to make a decision based on what is in the absolute best interest of the child. More often than not, that decision has been with the mother. Nowadays, however, dads are fighting for their rights in child custody.

Unfortunately, while navigating your divorce as a stay-at-home dad, you face an immediate disadvantage. You are not the breadwinner of the family and therefore may be considered financially unprepared to care for your children. Also, often your wife may begin sending checks to a new, separate bank account of her own rather than the joint one that you typically have shared and depended on. This may make affording a lawyer for yourself difficult. You may find yourself needing to enter a difficult job market that you may be educationally unprepared for and financially unprepared to earn.

Here at Kenny Leigh & Associates, we are prepared to help you navigate your divorce and fight for the custody of your children, as well as address any other family law issues. There are some steps that you can take to preserve your rights throughout your divorce:

  • File first. This will be advantageous when it comes to appearing before the court, because you will get to speak with the judge first. By doing so, you have the opportunity to set the tone for the process.

  • Have great witnesses. You are looking for people who will say more about you than, "You're an awesome father." Carefully select individuals who can testify to the impact that you have made on your children and to how well you care for them. They should be able to provide specific examples of how your child depends and relies on you.

  • Do not attempt to deny any parenting time to your wife. The court does not like when one parents tries to solely have custody. Remember that although you may be the primary caregiver to your children, they deserve to be able to maintain a relationship with their mother also.

  • Do not speak ill of your children's mother in front of them. The judge will not tolerate this and you will end up doing unnecessary harm to your children, spouse, and yourself.

  • Prepare to make negotiations. Custody decisions and spousal decisions will be reached due to the negotiations that the attorneys and parents make. Make sure that your attorney is completely aware of your intentions, what you are trying to accomplish, and that he or she is willing to fight for those intentions.

  • Provide documentation of the current custodial environment. Be able to provide proof of what you do on a regular basis to care for your children.

We understand that you likely are a stay-at-home dad because of the value and importance that you place on the role you play in your children's lives. Therefore, we are dedicated to navigating your divorce with you to earn the custody rights that you desire. We encourage you to speak with a lawyer here at Kenny Leigh & Associates to find more information on your rights as a stay-at-home father. We have six offices located in Gainesville, Jacksonville, Daytona, Fleming Island, Fort Walton Beach, and Boca Raton, serving both North and South Florida. 

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