Scarlett Johansson, aka Black Widow, may be one of the highest-paid actresses and a striking beauty, but she is also a Mom. In filing for divorce from husband Romain Dauriac on March 7, 2017, Johansson now contends1 with a custody battle over her daughter, Rose. This is the first lesson of custody fights: you may be somebody’s superhero, but in the eyes of the law and your kid, you’re just a parent. No better, no worse, than a thousand other parents, sexy costume or not.
Three Cs to Live By in Custody Cases
One lesson of a custody battle, is an appreciation for three ideas:
When you step up to wage a fight to win custody of your children, you are all in. You have to be fully committed, because the stakes are just so high. The battle over the marriage cannot be re-fought (perhaps you were overextended; perhaps she was unloving), but you can make a commitment to your own kids to show them, in words and action, just how profoundly, deeply, madly you love them.
You divorced your wife, and now you make a commitment to your children to show them, come hell or high water, you are not divorcing them. Grasp every moment as an opportunity to commit to them, show them you love them, and try always to be there for them.
During the custody battle, your lawyer will exude competence. Papers perfectly prepared; appointments kept to the minute; not a hair or shoelace out of place. That level of serene competence needs to suffuse everything you do.
Men are natural underdogs in custody battles, especially in Virginia where judges tend to rely on traditional role models. You have to overcome this prejudice against Virginia men and demonstrate, to courtroom, ex-wife and children alike, that you are competent. You are a Dad.
Keep appointments. Honor promises. Learn about your children’s lives. What is Farrah’s favorite ice cream? What size shoe does Sammy wear? Does Little Lindsay still like her Life cereal or has she grown into Special K? Which child has the same 6th grade teacher you had?
The contributions you make to make the new relationship work will be noticed. Do not telegraph that you want full custody to avoid paying child support. That may well be an underlying benefit, but it is not the main reason you seek custody, is it?
If you make an effort to work with your ex-wife to arrange both visitation and finances that are realistic and fair, you can influence decisions on custody. You are not being immature or punitive; you are trying to contribute fully to your children’s lives.
Be a Great Dad
The Good Men Project recommends 100 ways to be a great Dad. Your time with your children (though diapering at 2 a.m. may seem infinitely long) is finite, and a divorce makes it even shorter. Eke every emotional moment you can from the time you have with your kids, because your job, divorce or not, is to build great adults from the raw material. Simply make being a great Dad a priority.
We know this is hard to do. Consider hearing from your divorce lawyer that your ex-wife has XYZ unreasonable demands that will cost you $ZYX if you agree. At that exact moment little Farrah reminds you it’s time for her Future Farmers of America meeting, or Sammy suddenly springs a school project on you, or Little Lindsay lets loose a list of toys she simply must have.
Do you blow your cool, or realize they know nothing of your ex-wife’s machinations? You make being a great Dad a priority and focus on your children. (Item #9 from the Good Men Project: Listen to your kids with all of your attention.)
A vital lesson from custody battles that many attorneys will tell their clients is to treat the process like a business. Be businesslike, short and sweet when dealing with your ex-wife. Document everything, says Single Dad Surviving. Have a “business plan” for getting through the custody process. Treat every encounter with your ex-wife as a transactional, not emotional, meeting.
Just as a search for a new job is best done by treating it like it, itself, is a job, so too should you treat your custody battle. It is what you are doing. It is your second career, your sideline, your second job. Work with your lawyer as if she or he is your business partner. You two have a task to complete (“Get custody of Sally, Farrah and Lindsay”) and you simply go about it, trying as hard as you can to remove emotion from the calculation.
With a call to 757-383-9184 or online contact, you can reach The Firm For Men and speak with an attorney representing men’s and fathers’ rights. We can help fight your custody battle with you, and provide wise counsel so that you learn a lot about yourself, your life, and how to make your children’s lives better. Visit our office in Virginia Beach or schedule an appointment with us in Newport News.