Separation is an emotionally trying time for everyone involved. We also understand that it puts concerned parties in a tough position when it comes to the logistical decisions that come with parting ways with a former partner.
Potentially one of the most difficult things to discuss with a co-parent in the middle of a divorce is child custody. Legally speaking, granting of child custody gives a parent or parents the right to make decisions on behalf of a child for where they will live, study, the faith they are brought up in, and even how they receive healthcare.
Having an experienced divorce lawyer by your side greatly helps in these negotiations. An attorney can effectively guide discussions between both parties to reach an agreeable conclusion. Still, gaining custody requires more than these discussions. Significant preparations are needed to ensure that the results are favorable on your behalf.
In a complicated divorce process, you have to keep these things in mind to make sure you gain custody of your child.
1. Learn to work with your co-parent.
Despite your relationship with your former partner not being at its best during the separation, it is important to be willing to work with them. Many individuals lose custody of their child due to an unwillingness to partner with the co-parent.
A judge decides on child custody arrangements with the child’s best interests in mind. Both parents must then show the capability to collaborate in providing the best life for their child.
2. Be prompt and prepared for court.
The court’s perception of you plays a large role in your ability to be granted custody. This is why you must consider all opportunities to present yourself as a loving and present guardian to your child.
One simple way to do so is to fill out all necessary forms meticulously and ahead of time. Forms with errors can unnecessarily slow down the process, and it makes you look careless. Make sure to study local regulations, too, to make sure you follow the rules.
You must also prepare well for your court hearing. Write down notes about what you want to talk about, including issues you think need addressing. Work with someone you trust to help you review and revise your points.
3. Be present in the lives of your children.
The preparations can feel overwhelming, but in its very basic form, the days until your hearing only require you to be involved in your child’s life. When visiting kids or bringing them somewhere, be punctual and do not reschedule as much as possible. Your perceived absence reflects negatively on you and builds a stronger case against you when in court.
Be sensitive, too, to what your kids are facing during the divorce. When you continue to be a big presence in their daily lives, it helps them understand that they remain your top priority.
4. Live your life responsibly.
Poor lifestyle choices also make you look irresponsible. When you engage in activities that could pose a risk to the safety and wellbeing of your child, it hurts your chances of gaining custody.
Avoid abusing substances, such as alcohol and drugs, as these do not just reflect badly on you. Setting this example is also bad for your children to witness. As the days lead up to your court hearing, be careful to avoid any suggestion that could link you to irresponsible practices to make sure that the court sees you as capable of taking care of your child in a safe environment.
5. Respect the decision of the judge.
After the judge makes an official decision regarding your case, your only response should be to accept the decision, favorable or not. In the event that you do not gain custody of your child, take time to study before making an appeal.
Should the court have certain recommendations for you as a parent, honor them. These sometimes take the form of parenting seminars, seeking professional help for your health, and even moving to a different neighborhood. Abiding by these shows your dedication to your child.
Custody Arrangements Are Not Set in Stone
Do remember that a judge’s ruling on child custody is not a one-time-only decision. Changes in your circumstances allow you to renegotiate the terms and to gain custody of your child. Make sure to still review state policies to know what you must prepare for the next time.
Exercise your capabilities to continue being a caring, responsible parent while proving to the court that you are able to take care of your child. With commitment, you can successfully gain child custody.