Have you been divorced recently? If so, and there are kids involved, you may be a little concerned about whether or not you’ll get full, or even partial custody of your kids. This can be a cause for concern because one of the most important factors in determining who wins custody of the children is how active each parent was in their life previous to the divorce. The courts favor the individual who was already most involved so as to not disrupt the child’s regular routine and life.
Still, there are a few things you should know to prepare yourself before walking into the courtroom to discuss custody.
1. Start Off as Strong as You Can
From the moment that you set foot inside that courtroom, you need to show through both your language and actions that you want as much custody as possible. If the judge determines that you’re not that interested in the kids at all, it makes for a much easier decision on his part. Even if you don’t full or even equal time and would prefer a regular visitation schedule, make that known from the very beginning. It’s always easier to go backward off of your original demands than it is to start weak and become more aggressive.
2. Keep Child Support Separate From Custody Fights
It may sound cynical, but some courts will naturally assume that a father who pushes for more visitation or more custody will do so simply because they want to pay less in child support. Whether or not that’s the case, it’s always wise to make that a secondary conversation to the custody battle that’s at hand. In some areas of the country, it doesn’t even matter who wins more custody, the parent who makes more will be required by law to pay more regardless.
3. Draw a Schedule to Illustrate Visitation Rights
Depending on the visitation schedule, fathers may be under the impression that they’ll see more of their child then they actually will. For instance, every other weekend and a Monday night sounds like quite a bit, but when you draw it out, you find out it’s anything but. Making a schedule not only illustrates how much actual time each parent will get, but it may help persuade the judge that the time being allotted is insignificant as well. Depending on your (now) ex-wife, they may be persuaded by seeing as well; after all, 1.5 weeks of no help can be stressful for any parent, and especially kids who are used to having their father around all the time.
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Shop Around for the Right Lawyer
At a fundamental level, this proceeding will dictate for the foreseeable future the amount of time that you’re legally allowed to see your children, so it’s on you to shop around until you find a lawyer that truly “gets it.” Some lawyers simply want a fast settlement and will push you to accept an arrangement that is not ideal. Still, others may push for you to avoid trial and try to settle out-of-court for an arrangement that doesn’t favor you at all. If that’s the case, push back, and if necessary, find a new lawyer. Research online for the best lawyers in your area and explain to each one of them why visitation or custody is so important. If they get it and agree to fight as hard as they can, you’ve found yourself a winner.
5. Try Not to Ruin Your Relationship With Your Ex-Wife
Even though there’s obviously a reason you and your ex-wife are in this position to begin with, it’s very important to not burn all the bridges during this process. When all the dust clears and the lawyers have been paid, the reality is that the arrangement is up to you and your ex-wife to determine the real-world applications of it. Giving on certain issues with the condition that you get more in other areas is the only way to agree on a setup that is not toxic to you and your childthat’sAfter all, that’s who matters in the end anyways, right?