When it comes to protecting men’s rights, especially fathers, it’s good to know that things have improved from the days when the mother was automatically right in all things child-related and most likely to be assigned custody.

But that doesn’t mean men can be complacent. There are things they should try to avoid doing to not face unexpected consequences later.

What Are Common Mistakes Men Make That Can Affect Their Legal Rights?

There are many, and this list is not meant to be comprehensive. Instead, it should be viewed as guidelines for what can go wrong. Suppose someone is considering action on some level of their divorce or parenting and wondering what the long-term results might be. In that case, contacting a knowledgeable family law attorney with the experience and insight to view the potential outcomes is a great idea.

  • Financial issues. This is a significant area where husbands make mistakes, which are often well-intentioned. It’s also an area with a wide range of actions that can cause the husband harm. Among them:
    • Trying to outspend the ex in a divorce. Sometimes, the husband thinks pushing for an extended (and thus costly) court divorce case will cause the ex to back down because they can’t afford it. However, that can also cause the husband financial issues without gaining any benefits.
    • Overpaying. In other cases, the husband agrees to significantly higher payouts (whether divorce settlements, child support, or spousal support) than they should. Sometimes, they do this to appear generous. Other times, they agree because they’re in a hurry to finish and finalize the divorce. But if it hurts them financially in the long run, generosity becomes a liability.
    • Nonpayment of support. If the husband withholds spousal support or child support payments for any reason other than financial distress (see the next bullet point for that), it could end up costing them more money in the long run–and they could even spend time in jail. What’s more, the courts could view the husband as not taking the process seriously, and they could revisit previous orders around visitation or custody.
    • Not seeking changes when needed. There are times when requesting changes in court-ordered spousal support or child support is the right thing to do, especially if there is a job loss or significant reduction in income. The husband may feel as if there’s some shame involved in this request or think the court won’t support the request. But when there is a significant change in the husband’s income, the courts will often be open to ordering the change (as long as there’s evidence backing it up and it doesn’t appear the husband is deliberately trying to reduce their income to avoid support payments).
  • Surrendering parental rights. Too often, husbands will give up their rights as parents early in the divorce proceedings, then realize later they’ve made a grave mistake. They often think the mother will be awarded all rights anyway, but that’s far from the case. Fathers today essentially have equal rights to mothers and shouldn’t hesitate to pursue them. Another common situation is husbands being given custody or visitation rights in the divorce, but they don’t use them. The ex can then claim the husband isn’t a valid parent, and the court could pull visitation or give the ex full custody.
  • Badmouthing. Divorce is one of life’s most stressful events, and it’s all too easy to have plenty to say about an ex. But badmouthing an ex, whether in front of children or on social media, can backfire enormously. The courts could view that negatively and take that into account as a factor when determining the final divorce orders. It’s best to keep all negative comments out of any public area or where children might hear them.
  • Get everything in writing. Too often, divorcing couples (or, for that matter, couples approaching marriage) talk things through but put nothing in writing. Trust is a wonderful concept, but memory is not a reliable legal tool, even if both parties have the best intentions. One spouse might remember a commitment being one thing, while the other remembers it entirely differently. Having it in writing can help avoid he said/she said situations.
  • Hiding assets. If a husband is looking at an upcoming divorce and thinks the best approach is to hide assets from the court, there’s a simple one-word solution: Don’t. Whether the ex and the court find out during the divorce proceedings or later, it likely won’t end well for the husband.
  • Assuming spousal support is automatic. Many husbands think they’ll automatically be ordered to pay spousal support to their ex. That’s not the case. Before ordering spousal support, the court will look at the income and earnings potential for each spouse, as well as several other factors. If the husband is approached about paying spousal support, he shouldn’t accept it without getting advice from a tax professional.
  • Unchanging spousal support. Occasionally, a husband will agree to spousal support as a permanent situation. But things change. There could be new marriages, additional children, and changes in income. Don’t agree to nonmodifiable spousal support.

What Should I Do if I Need Help Understand My Rights as a Husband or Father?

Call Reel Fathers Rights at 909-323-7962 to request an initial consultation. We know that the realm of fathers’ rights is a relatively new one and not always easy to understand.

We also know that you may have more rights than you realize. We can guide you through the process of determining what your rights may be in your case and how to approach securing them going forward.