If you were to visit divorce forums or support pages on various social media platforms, you will likely find people claiming that the Ohio family court system unfairly prefers to hand custody over to the mother in cases of heterosexual divorce.
While there has been a historical precedent in many jurisdictions were the courts chose the primary caregiver as the person with primary custody, that trend died off many years ago. Most states, including Ohio, now focus primarily on the best interests of the children. In fact, the Ohio custody laws have no reference to gender in them whatsoever.
The courts want to ensure that both parents play a role in the lives of the children unless there are extreme circumstances, like abuse or addiction, that would leave the children vulnerable in a shared custody scenario. Given that those situations are not very common, it may surprise you to hear people claim they were not able to secure shared custody. However, a potential reason that they didn’t get custody might surprise you.
Many dads don’t ask for custody during divorce
The biggest mistake you can make as a father is to decide that it’s not worth it to protect your role in the lives of your children when you divorce the mother or otherwise end your relationship with her. Quite a few men going through divorce simply give up and choose not to fight for shared custody of their children.
They may hear other people talking about gender bias in the courts and decide that the situation is hopeless. Alternatively, they may be going through intense depression as a result of the end of their marriage that keeps them from carefully considering the consequences of their decisions or advocating for their rights and preferred outcome.
One of the most common reasons that fathers don’t get to spend time with their children is that they don’t ask to. That includes unmarried fathers who have not established paternity. Regardless of your marital status, pushing to protect your relationship with your kids when the relationship with the mother of those children falls apart is usually your best option.
More parenting time can mean less financial support
Spending more time with your children is obviously the biggest benefit of seeking shared custody, asserting your paternity during a breakup or asking the courts for a modification after your initial divorce decree. However, there is a secondary benefit, and that is that you will have to pay less money for child support when you spend more time with your children.
Whether you’re in the throes of divorce now or you’re done but don’t have shared custody, it’s never too late to fight for your relationship with your kids.