Child Custody in New Mexico – it shouldn’t be about winning or losing.
In the last decade we have seen a slow by steady change in the court’s willingness to award primary custody to dads, especially when the mom has a demanding job.
It is not uncommon these days for women to be the bread winners and fathers to become the stay-at-home parent. The recent economy issues have affected men more than women. So, the men are becoming the caregivers, while the women are reporting to the work force.
And even though some media sources tout this as the downfall of our society, it is not. It’s the sequel of what has always been the case. A judge is much more likely to award primary custody to the parent who has the biggest presence in the children’s lives. Gender is no longer the deciding factor.
Here at PJ Hartman, we counsel our clients (female and male) who are worried about losing primary custody of their children.
• Try not to think in terms of “winning” or “losing”. It is not about which parent wins and which parent loses the custody battle. It is about the best interest of the children. Change your focus and be honest about who has spent the most time with them. Was it you or your ex who took care of them when they were sick? Who drove them to the dentist office, Scouts or sporting events? Who attended the parent/teacher conferences? Giving up primary custody doesn’t mean you can’t maximize your time with your children. It just means this is not about you or your spouse. It is about the children.
• If the role of primary caregiver has fallen equally between you and your spouse learn to be a “visible” parent. A lot of what we do for our kids is unseen, such as reading bedtime stories, making dinner, helping with homework or dealing with a sick child in the middle of the night. If you feel your marriage is headed for a divorce, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to make a point of attending teacher conferences, volunteering to chaperone a field trip or bringing the next round of snacks to the ball field. It goes without saying that this will take time away from your job but if you don’t get more involved in your children’s lives don’t be surprised if the judge agrees with your ex that your job doesn’t leave time for you to be the primary the caregiver.
• Don’t be afraid to hire extra help. These days, it is not uncommon for both parents to work and you may already have someone in place to keep the household running smoothly. But if not, now is a good time to hire a professional, qualified caregiver. Though they won’t be a substitute for dad or mom, they can help with carpools, doctor visits and making sure the children don’t come home to an empty house. If you can have that someone in place before the divorce it would make it much easier for the kids to adapt.