Video Transcribed: You’re a good dad. You want to make sure you get to continue to be a good dad through your divorce, and then ultimately after your divorce, by being in your children’s lives as much as possible. How can you make sure that that is set up and stays that way even if your ex gets a hair across her ass? That’s the question that many fathers ask me, and I’m here today to kind of talk to you about one way you can help protect your relationship with your children by taking proactive steps early on.
My name is Brian L. Jackson. I am a father’s rights attorney in Oklahoma with Dads.Law. And today we’re going to talk about something called establishing a status quo. Now status quo means basically this is the starting position. This is quote-unquote, the “normal.” You hear a lot in the news about discussions of what’s normal or new normal. And this is kind of the same idea.
Basically what we’re talking about here is when you separate from your ex, there’s going to be a quote, “new normal,” and you want to establish that new normal in a manner that favors your relationship with your children as much as possible.
Now I’m not saying you do it at the expense of the children’s mother. But what I am saying is you want to set it up so that it’s not all mom all the time early on, because that will make it harder. If she gets a hair across your ass later and wants to go for full custody, it’ll be harder for her to convince the court to do that.
Now, the way you establish that status quo. First of all, early on you want to try to get as early as possible, either an interim or a temporary order that gives you joint custody and as close to 50/50 time as possible, if not you having more than 50% of the overnights. And you want to set that up early, and then you want to follow through. Make sure you’re exercising that time and make sure you’re exercising that time consistently.
If you can manage to do that and maintain that pattern for enough time, the court will see that as the status quo. And then at that point, if she comes back later in once full custody in the final order, she’s going to have to convince the court why that’s a good idea because the court’s going to be looking at it from the best interest standard as they always do.
And if you and she have been doing a particular thing for long enough, the court will presume absent evidence to the contrary that whatever it is you’re doing is in the best interest of the children. And that’s generally the presumption anyway because if you’re a fit parent, you’re presumed to act in the best interest of your children until it’s proven you’re not.
So what that does is it’s going to force her to prove to the court that this arrangement is no longer in the best interest of the children. And typically that means proving you did something that’s not in the best interest of the children.
And that’s a harder burden to carry than simply saying, “I want, I want, I want, I want, I want,” which is often what you run into with the, with some of these women. And you get guys who are like that too. I’ll be fair about it, but it won’t matter to the court.
I’ve had judges tell parents straight up, “I don’t care what you want. I’m here in the best interest of your children. Show me that.” And if you’ve got a status quo that is working, then it’s going to be extremely difficult for her to persuade the judge to deviate from that, even if it’s inconvenient to her.
So my advice along those lines is, get a good arrangement established early. And then follow through, keep your time. And for God’s sake, don’t leave the kids with a sitter all the time while you go out and party.
And I’m not saying you guys do that, I’m saying just don’t. There’s plenty of time for you to date and be a single man again, but at least while there are still pending custody matters going, follow-through, do what you need to do for your kids. You want to be in their lives.
You need to be sure that you get that right established early and then exercise it. Show the court that. If you’re watching this video, I’m going to presume it’s because you’re a good dad and you want to be in your children’s lives. So do it be in your children’s lives. The way you protect that is by doing.
And then if she isn’t… If she’s not willing to play nice on that, if she’s pushing back and giving you a problem for no good reason, then I’m going to give you the same advice I always give: sue her ass. Because you do have legal remedies.
If there’s an order in the place she’s disobeying, you can go after a motion to enforce. You can start filing contempt in Oklahoma. If there isn’t an order she’s disobeying, you could probably still go after her under the automatic temporary injunction. And you can ask the court to set a rapid hearing on custody and visitation on the grounds that she’s alienating. There are always options, you just have to exercise them.