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Newly separated father worried that he has no chance at any reasonable custody outcome

Your Question:
I am currently going through a divorce and it was agreed that we would not go for full custody but low and behold my ex has done it. As far as I know we stand on an Equal playing feild, both of us have played a part in our kids lives for 12 yrs, right down the middle I have been involved in it all! BUT I feel that since she is a women I stand no chance of getting custody of my 2 kids ages 11 and 3 both girls. Am I crazy to even think I have a shot? I think it's crap that she should get costody just cause of that fact. In-Fact she told me as much in a phone convo last week. I feel that even if I get a GOOD lawyer I will still lose. Am I wrong? Are Nebraska courts biased? What should I look for when choosing a lawyer?

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My Answer:

Sorry for what you're going through. I think you need more of an attitude chat, more than any strategic advice I could give you.

Yes, I know that what you're going through ain't fun, and the stakes are huge. I can do predictions on a couple of scenarios:

If you believe you don't have a shot at getting any decent time with your daughters, and if you don't think it's worth it to try, then odds are 100% that you will get screwed and that your daughters will have marginal contact with their father. Pretty bad odds, eh?

If you find a good attorney, educate yourself about how family law works in child custody rulings, pray for a good outcome, keep a positive and winning attitude; then the odds are substantially less than 100% that you'll get screwed.

I'm not sure if you're a gambler, or if you've ever studied statistics, but I'll do the analysis for you anyway... 100% odds of getting screwed is much worse than the alternative.

If you have spent roughly 50% of the parenting time with the kids, then you actually have a decent shot at getting close to half (if not exactly half) of the custodial time post-separation. It would depend upon the strength of your evidence, and the competence of your attorney.

On the other hand, if the mother has spent close to 100% of the parenting time with the girls, you shouldn't expect that to change much simply because you're now divorced.

Likewise, if you've been a stay-at-home dad, and the mother has worked full-time, you may expect a majority of custodial timeshare post-separation.

The biggest wildcard, which neither you nor the mother can control, is the judge. The judge has wide discretion to make orders on what's best for children.

Rather than investing all this energy into your worst fears, I suggest that you start learning about the process. Knowledge is a great antidote to fear. Take a look at the books I recommend on my Resources page. The Win Your Child Custody War book is a must-have, and it'll also give you excellent tips on searching for an attorney.

All you can do is your best, in trying to get an outcome that is best for the girls. If you give it your all, then you get to spend the rest of your life without regrets, regardless of the outcome. If you surrender without much of an effort, then you may really be hard on yourself for years thereafter.

Among parents who climbed uphill battles and succeeded in good outcomes for their kids, they all have one thing in common-- no matter what, they never gave up.

Your worst case scenario, presuming you already have an awesome relationship with your girls, is that you spend less time with them... but nothing will harm the bond you already have. That is at least one fear I can help you resolve.

Good luck!


This website gives common sense advice that is not intended to act as legal guidance nor psychological guidance. The author is neither an attorney nor licensed psychologist. For specific legal guidance or specific psychological guidance, consult with a licensed professional.

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