In contested divorces, it’s not uncommon for a mother and father to have conflicting opinions about who should get custody of their child. However, it’s important to remember that fathers have the same rights as mothers in custody cases.

Rather than making a decision based on your parenting role, a judge looks at which parent serves in the best interest of your child when determining the outcome of a custody case. So, acting in accordance with your child’s best interests can increase your chances of getting custody.

Here are three things you can do to ensure you are fulfilling your child’s best interests.

1. Remain present

When fighting for custody, you want to show the judge that you are an important part of your child’s life. Your divorce might make it challenging to navigate your child’s social life, especially if you and your ex have bad blood.

But making an effort to attend school events, sporting activities or social gatherings can show a judge that you are a supportive father who is fully invested in your child’s life. Not only that, it can also demonstrate that you have a meaningful relationship with your child.

2. Make room

Many fathers find a new place to live during and after divorce. Because of the cost of divorce, it might be a smaller living space than what you’re used to. No matter the size, taking the time to prepare a safe, comfortable space for your child can allow him or her to grow and develop socially, emotionally and physically. It can show a judge that you have proper living arrangements that can accommodate your child’s needs.

3. Mind your manners

It can be tempting to bad-mouth your ex during this emotionally distressing time. However, a judge may view your behavior towards others as a reflection of your behavior towards your child.

Speaking and behaving respectfully towards the mother of your child and anyone else involved in the divorce process will paint you in a more positive light. Conducting yourself appropriately in court, in public and even behind your computer screen can show a judge that you are responsible and respectful.

Don’t let your role as a father keep you from seeking custody of your child. An experienced family law attorney can help you fight for the best possible outcome for you and your child.