Child custody cases are capable of turning volatile very quickly. The well-being of the child is always the key consideration in the case, but ensuring the child’s “best interest” can cause contention between parents. While we would like to believe that individuals involved with the case could come to an agreeable solution easily, this is generally not the case.
The choices each parent makes leading up to, throughout, and after the court case can seriously affect a parent’s right to custody of their children. The following tips can help you make the right decisions regarding your children and positively affect the outcome of the custody case.
1. Foster the Relationship with your Children
While a custody battle should not be the only reason for upping your attentiveness as a parent, it should be an encouragement to build the relationship you have with the child. Courts take into account the relationship between each parent and the child in determining who should have custody. If a parent is distant and detached from the child before and during the custody case, their odds of receiving majority custody are minimal.
Depending on the age of the child, sometimes the court will take the child’s opinion into consideration. This can be detrimental to your custody case if you do not have a good relationship with the child. Similarly, both sides can provide character witnesses to attest to their parenting abilities and willingness to do so. If the other parent is able to prove that you are not attentive to the child, do not make them a priority in your life, or do not provide a positive influence, then you could lose the custody case.
Make your child a top priority in your life. Sharing in daily activities with your child can be priceless for your custody case. Seeking parenting advice online is a great place to generate ideas for spending quality time with your kids.
- Reading with your child
- Take them to the park
- Help them with their homework
- Cook with them
- Traveling with them
Provide a safe environment for your child and simply provide for their needs.
2. Moving out before custody is decided
A big mistake that is commonly made in custody cases is when one parent moves out of the home. If you and the other parent of the child live together, but decide not to be together anymore and one parent moves out, this can cause issues for the parent that moved out of the home. This is a voluntary decrease in time spent with the child and will reflect badly on the parent.
If you must move out of the home, ensure that you are till scheduling times to visit the child and spend time with them. Maintaining stability in a child’s life is important, so the court will rule with the path of least resistance. If the child is accustomed to living with only one of the parents full-time, then the court will be inclined to rule in favor of continuing this practice.
3. Perception is Everything
Exercising your rights as a parent shows your commitment to the child. Remember that perception is everything in a custody case. The court is only able to judge the situation based on what they are presented.
Make choices that reflect positively on yourself:
- Dress appropriately for court
- Come prepared and arrive on time
- Maintain documentation
- Request an in-home custody evaluation
- Be cautious of content posted on social media
Your actions will affect the outcome of your custody case. It is important to put your best self forward and convince the courts that your presence and parenting is in the best interest of the child.
4. Willingness to Negotiate
Child custody cases can be a battle, and if you are viewed as the overly hostile party, this can obviously affect the outcome of your case. Some parents that are blatantly unwilling to cooperate in negotiations with the other parent have lost rights in their custody case. The court will view this unwillingness to collaborate as a detriment to the child and their best interest.
“We see it time after time in family law court, when an overly hostile parent is unwilling to relent on a condition of their custody agreement and the case ends up in the court’s hands with the exact same outcome, for a much higher price. I recommend that clients try mediation to attempt to reach an agreement, or at least gain an understanding of the contentious conditions,”
Timothy Durkin – JacksonWhite Senior Family Law Attorney
Due to the heightened emotions and potentially volatile situation, it is highly recommended that parents undergo mediation before taking a custody case to court. While court is not always avoidable, it is worth the extra effort to attempt mediation.
In mediation, both parties can discuss the options available and try to come to an agreement that they can both live with. A mediator will facilitate the discussion between the two parents, but does not have the authority to make any decisions regarding custody. Avoiding a custody lawsuit will not only save both parties money, but also allows them to maintain complete control over the custody agreement.
If the custody case is taken to court, the judge has the final vote on what happens to the child and their ruling is enforceable by law. This means that the parents give up the ability to decide for themselves what happens to the child and have to live with the decision made by the court. Giving up this power to decide the child’s future is a risk as the judge will only have the information provided to make their determination.
5. Select the Right Attorney for your Case
An issue many parents have after a custody case is realizing that they did not get the conditions they thought were important. This can be the result of a parent representing themselves poorly, or an attorney that did not understand the parent’s wants and needs. If you are unable to be completely open and forthcoming with your attorney then you can’t be certain they will fight for what you think is best. Regardless of their successes an attorney, if you can’t trust them, they aren’t the right fit for you.
The purpose of having an attorney is to have someone in your corner that understands the laws and statutes that govern custody cases and is willing to fight for what you think is best for your child. Feel free to take consultations with multiple family law attorneys in your area to ensure that you find the right fit for your case.
Call the Family Law Team at (480) 467-4348 to discuss your case today.
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