In the wake of divorce, custody disputes often become the most harrowing part of the process. You love your kids and want the best for them, and the thought of not being around for them is terrifying.
How Is Custody Decided?
Countless factors play into the court’s ultimate decision about parenting plans and visitation and every case plays out in a different way depending on the kids, their age, you and your ex, where you live, and even the judge. It’s vital to put your best foot forward.
What Can I Do?
You need to convince the court you’re best suited to be the primary custodian. It’s important to demonstrate your parenting ability and showcase what you bring to the table. With that in mind, here are some ways you can help your child custody case.
1. Work With Your Ex
Like it or not, when you have kids, you’re going to have some contact with your ex. Unless the health or well being of your children is in danger, you’ll have to work together as co-parents on some level. You may not like it, but bite the bullet and collaborate with your ex. Not only is it beneficial to the kids to have both parents involved in their lives, this willingness to cooperate can help your child custody case.
2. Stay Part of Your Child’s Life
It’s vital to remain a part of your child’s daily life for a number of reasons. This strengthens the parent/child bond, it’s good for both of you, and it can help your child custody case.
Spending time with your children on a regular basis shows you are and want to stay an involved parent.
Courts also try to avoid drastically shaking up a child’s routine when ruling on custody. When you’re already a key part of their life, it’s more likely to stay that way.
3. Make Use Of Your Parental Rights
We see it all the time. People claim to want custody, but don’t take advantage of it when they have the chance. While a case is in progress, the court often issues temporary custody orders. These grant regular visitation and the like.
Take advantage of time and opportunities you’re given. This includes big, fun special events, but also regular things, like helping with homework and going to doctor’s appointments.
It’s important for the kids that you’re present, but it also demonstrates you’re an involved parent who wants to be there for your children.
Related Reading: Enforcement Proceedings: Protecting Your Parental Rights
4. Document Everything
Two words can come in very handy in these situations: document everything!
- If your ex sends you an email denying you a scheduled visit for flimsy reasons, save it.
- The same goes for voicemails,
- instant messages,
- social media posts,
- and any other form of communication.
If you have concerns about your child’s safety in your ex’s care, document your reasons.
Keep a record of the time you spend with your kids. That way, if your ex claims you’re not an involved parent, you can prove otherwise.
Basically, whatever statements you make to the court about your ability as a parent, or your ex’s, collect as much solid evidence as you can to support your claims.
5. Don’t Interfere With Visitation
By this point, there’s likely ill will between you and your ex. Divorce tends to leave scars. But it’s important not to use custody situations for revenge.
If your ex has visitation scheduled, don’t interfere with it or stop it from happening.
First off, recognize that it benefits your kids to have both parents in their lives. Meddling makes you look petty, but it can also have a wider impact. If you complain about your ex hampering your own visitation, you can bet a judge will remember this. Acting like a rational adult will only help your child custody case.
6. Don’t Trash Talk Your Ex
Again, you probably aren’t too fond of your ex right now. No one expects you to be best friends, but keep those feelings to yourself, especially around your children.
Be there for your kids and serve their best interests. Don’t use them as pawns in your custody case or try to turn them against your ex. Not only it is unhealthy for them, if you try to manipulate them, it can damage your cause.
Focus on making yourself look good instead of making your ex look bad, that will help your child custody case even more.
7. Hire A Child Custody Lawyer
Child custody disputes often become heated. Tempers flare and people may react emotionally instead of thinking things through. Much detail and many complex laws go into custody decisions. Because of all of this, it’s usually in your best interest to hire a child custody attorney, especially if your ex works with one. A knowledgeable professional can help keep things calm and guide you through a complicated process.
Related Reading: 7 Keys to Finding the Best Child Custody Lawyer
These are just a few ways to prepare for an impending custody hearing. There are many other strategies and methods to get ready.
Regardless of your approach, it’s a good idea to lay the groundwork ahead of time. Take the time and effort to create a plan, it will only help your child custody case.