As a California father, you may find yourself missing out on valuable time with your child due to an adverse custody decision. Unfortunately, although California law presumes that shared custody is in the best interest of a child, due to antiquated parenting stereotypes, mothers sometimes still get more custody time.
This leaves many fathers fighting for their rights in custody court. Regaining shared custody can be a great feeling, and you may be ready to begin rebuilding your relationship with your child.
However, the missed time with your child could result in one or both of you feeling awkward spending time together, or unsure of how things will go. There are many things you can do to help you reconnect and bond with your child.
Maintain regular contact, but don’t force it
Start small. Even if you have been awarded shared custody, it might not be best to force your child to adhere to the schedule immediately. If they are used to only spending time with you every other weekend and are now spending an entire week with you, they could feel anxious and disoriented.
Consider starting with daily phone or video calls, and then building up to one or two days per week. If things go well, move to overnight visits and work your way up to the shared custody schedule.
Make it clear that you are doing this to help your child feel comfortable and not force them into a situation they are not ready for. Your co-parent could use your “phase-in” approach to make it seem like you do not want to spend time with your child, and you need to make it clear this is not true.
Play an active role in all areas of your child’s life
When you do not have custody, try to participate in as many activities as possible with your child. Attend their school, sporting or other events and develop a good relationship with their school and teachers.
Volunteer to take your child to appointments or provide transportation when your co-parent is unavailable. If your co-parent is still working when school lets out for the day, volunteer to spend time with your child after school.
Over time, your child should begin to feel more comfortable with you. Be patient and remember that the important thing is that your child feels safe and loved by both parents.