Let’s face it. Child custody cases can be stressful and uncomfortable. Sometimes, our first thought is to act out. Before you do anything. First, count to ten…that is… ten positive behaviors to avoid being backed in the corner with your custody case. Let’s countdown to a favorable outcome for you and your children
- Present yourself in an appropriate manner. The court wants reassurance that you are a competent, attentive and committed parent. Oftentimes perceptions can overshadow a situation leaving only what is believed to be true. Don’t let poor judgment misrepresent your character. Arrive on time, dress professionally and use proper decorum in front of the judge and at all times.
- Always present the truth and with evidence when possible. The expression, “By any means necessary,” does not apply to these types of cases. If an accusation has merit, do everything you can to obtain evidence of this behavior. Misrepresenting the truth or telling lies will only hurt your case and potentially the child.
- Protect your children first. Minimize their exposure to conflict. Avoid asking them who they want to live with, how they feel about the other parent, or try to guilt them into seeing your point of view. Although you and your ex may disagree on various issues, try to present a united front to the children. Additionally, do not share details of the case with them. Focus on imparting love, providing security and special care.
- Remember the court (in non-violent circumstances) supports arrangements that involve a close relationship with BOTH parents. Avoid alienating the other parent away from your children. Parents who try to damage or destroy their children’s relationship with the other parent are likely to lose custody in court proceedings. Therefore, the parent who shows collaboration between their children and the other parent has an advantage.
- Take advantage of your parental rights. Spend as much time with your children as you can. Be consistent with routine or everyday tasks such as homework and chores. Keep your commitment with scheduled time with your children. Repeatedly rescheduling your parenting time could make it appear to the court that you’re just filing for custody out of spite. Arrive on time for visits or pickups. Deviating from these behaviors could create a negative impression of your commitment.
- Refrain from alcohol and drug abuse, especially when you’re with your children. Avoid the possibility of the opposing party suggesting that you’re putting your children at risk.
- Show the court you are committed. Comply with anything the court asks of you. They are the judge literally and figuratively.
- Adequately prepare. In cases of physical abuse—you should carefully document your interactions with the other person, as well as his or her interactions with your children. Prepare strong documentation of incidences for the courts.
- Be willing to collaborate with your spouse. Simply put, some parents have lost child custody because of they were unable to work with the other parent.
- Partner with a good family law attorney. Your attorney should know the law and focus on achieving the outcome you desire. Ask questions and feel good about with whom you are partnering.
Exhale. You are on your way to a less stressful experience. In fact, taking this approach will enrich the outcome for your children which is what we all want first and foremost.