In the past, custody battles used to be all about the parents. Divorce court attorneys often stood before a judge defending their client’s reputation, lifestyle and parenting skills in hopes of winning the custody battle. It was an all or nothing game.
Today, all or nothing just doesn’t exist. It’s not about the parents anymore. It’s about the children. Joint custody is now the most acceptable choice in divorce cases involving children. This is due, in part, to the fact that numerous studies have shown that it is in the best interests for children to have both parents involved in their lives, not just financially but emotionally as well. The bottom line is that the court’s main focus is your children.
While winning full custody of your children may be out of the realm of possibility, doing everything you can to gain joint custody is equally important. Though you may not be able to “win” the custody battle, you can definitely influence the court by your own actions. They will also take into account whether or not you are willing to support the child’s relationship with the other parent and keep them informed.
Divorce attorneys may be well equipped at arguing a custody case before the court, but they may lack the background needed to present the proper dynamics and underlying issues of the case itself. This is where you come in. Make sure your attorney is made aware of the ins and outs involving the custody case. Take action. Be as involved as you can possibly be in the court proceedings. Make sure that you go to all of your required court dates. Be aware of your rights as a parent.
Show some responsibility before being asked to do so. You can do this by paying child support even if it is not ordered into court yet. Give something every month, whether by check or money order so you have a record of the payments.
Expect to go through a court-ordered evaluation of your mental, physical, psychological and emotional well-being. The court may also interview your children, review medical and school records and perform a rigorous criminal background check.
Most importantly, avoid arguing with the other parent. It’s not healthy for your children or for you and, in the end, it only makes things worse. Communications before and during court proceedings should never be foul-mouthed, abrasive, accusatory, insulting or made up of false accusations. Be factual and civil. Keep track of every note, letter, e-mail, and phone conversation involving you and the other parent. The tone or attitude that you present in court can either make or break your case. Acting responsibly and maturely will weigh heavily in your favor.
Divorce courts are more aware than ever about what is best for the children. Though custody battles can be difficult, there’s no reason why they have to be messy and painful as well. Do your part. Be the adult. And hopefully, the other parent will follow in your footsteps.