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What should dads do in contested custody cases?

While divorcing dads seeking custody have a much greater chance of winning their cases than fathers only a few decades ago, many — rightly — feel that the custody deck is stacked against them. Below is a checklist of things a father can do that may increase the likelihood of his being named custodial parent of his children.

When divorce is imminent, yet nothing has been filed:

-- Cancel joint credit cards.

-- Secure funds in investment and bank accounts.

-- Gather financial statements together and make copies for your attorney.

-- Do the same with insurance policies, utility bills and canceled checks.

-- Remove jointly owned valuables from them home like paintings and collectibles and secure them off-premises. If your spouse has a mental health history, document her medical records (monthly statements, discharge summaries, empty pill bottles).

As the divorce progresses, you will want to do the following:

-- Retain residency in the home unless ordered to leave by a judge.

-- Increase or maintain your involvement in your child's life, e.g., attend PTA meetings, school open houses and your children's games and performances.

-- Make sure that your child's physical needs are being met, and document your purchases of diapers and groceries and that you are a fully involved parent who prepares meals and changes diapers, does laundry and purchases clothing.

-- It's said a picture is worth a thousand words, so make sure that you have plenty of photos and videos of you and your children together.

-- Devote your free time to your children and put new intimate relationships on hold for now.

-- If you have to leave the house, find a spot with a bedroom for your child with toys, clothing and computer access.

-- Keep a chronological journal of divorce events and document date dates, places and witnesses for your attorney.

-- Leave a paper trial of emails when conversing with your ex.

-- Never, ever threaten violence towards your ex or others. Make sure that you appear as the good guy in the case.

Your family law attorney may have additional directives. Abide by his or her suggestions for the best possible custody outcome.

Source: fathersrights.org, "Checklist," Ronald L. Isaacs, J.D., accessed Oct. 21, 2015

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