A child custody battle can be one of the most stressful, yet important things you will ever engage in. After all, it’s your child’s well-being on the line.
Child custody disputes are rarely easy. There’s no magical formula for how to win a child custody case, but there are ways to improve your odds.
Read on for the top 6 tips to win a child custody battle.
1. Focus on the Best Interest of Your Child
This should go without saying, but sadly, a lot of parents lose sight of the most important thing: your child’s best interest.
Here’s why. Parent’s often get wrapped up in trying to “win.” Don’t shift away from what’s best for your child because you’re trying to beat your ex.
A heated custody battle takes a toll on everyone. Even babies are aware of and affected by the increased stress that goes hand in hand with separation and custody cases. Children feel anxiety just as adults do, and it can adversely affect their mood, sleep patterns and other behaviors.
Older kids may be concerned about the unknowns – the possibilities of having to move, change schools, make all new friends. It’s common for them to worry that they’re somehow to blame, or that you or their other parent won’t love them anymore.
Keep in mind that this is an emotionally challenging time for everyone and it’s important to stay focused on your children and what’s best for them. Now’s the time to give them a little extra reassurance and emotional support.
As you start sorting through the details of your child custody agreement remember that children benefit greatly from having both parents play an active role in their life. It’s important to work out a fair parenting time schedule that gives your kids quality time with both of you.
The exception to the rule is when one of the parents is unfit to care for the child because they pose a risk of physical or emotional harm. If that’s the case it’s critical you consult with an attorney right away to help protect your child.
2. Hire an Experienced Family Law Attorney
When you’re facing something as serious as a custody battle, it’s crucial that you get in touch with an attorney quickly.
They know the law, have tried many cases just like yours, and can play both protector and peacemaker while working for the best-case outcome. Having an attorney guide you from the start can help you from making costly mistakes.
Some parents start the process based on false beliefs or with unrealistic expectations. For example, being awarded 100% full custody is highly unlikely.
Don’t assume just because you’re a woman that the court will favor you and you’ll have an easier time getting the custody agreement you want. That’s not the case.
Likewise, if you’re a father, don’t assume you don’t stand a chance because the courts favor mothers. Despite what you may have heard, that’s not how it works.
When courts make decisions about child custody and visitation agreements they want to ensure both parents are a part of their children’s lives.
Your attorney will let you know what to realistically expect and how to create an equitable parenting agreement and visitation schedule that’s fair to everyone.
If you do have any concerns about the well-being of your children, hiring an attorney is extremely important. They will advocate for what’s best for your child, making their safety a priority.
3. Work Together to Keep Things From Getting Ugly
One of the biggest problems with child custody cases is that they can quickly become ugly. Parents often use this as an opportunity to take out frustrations regarding their relationship with each other rather than keeping the focus on their kids.
If you want to protect your interests and those of your child, you need to do your best to make peace and be civil. Try to separate from your personal feelings regarding your ex and keep any unresolved issues between the two of you out of your custody case. Focus only on issues that will have a direct impact on your child.
Regardless of where the two of you stand, it is always better to have an out-of-court settlement. You have more control over getting the best outcome for your child when your co-parenting relationship is collaborative, rather than combative.
If you’re unable to reach an agreement together, meditation services are available to help work through the details before going to court becomes necessary. Your attorney can help make these arrangements.
4. Address Issues That Could Work Against You
If you’re facing a child custody battle, you can expect every aspect of your life to be put under a microscope. Because of this, you need to understand what aspects of your life may not play to your advantage in court.
An attorney can help evaluate your personal circumstances and offer advice to give you the best chances of a favorable outcome. If any potential issues are uncovered, your attorney will advise you on what you can do to minimize the impact those things could have on your custody case.
Also, keep in mind that perception is everything. Keep your communication with the other parent positive, and don’t say anything to them that you wouldn’t want a judge to see.
5. Exercise Caution With Your Social Media Use
In today’s day and age, it’s easy to jump on social media to complain about your ex. It might feel good to publicly vent and receive support, however, it’s not a good idea! If you publicly bash the other parent it could potentially be used against you as evidence of parental alienation.
Your activity on social media can be used as evidence in a variety of other ways too, and is sure to be closely scrutinized. What you say online can negatively impact the outcome of a custody battle so it’s important to exercise caution.
Social media posts can be used to assess your character and play a role in determining the outcome of your custody case. What you post can also be used as evidence of your state-of-mind, location history, spending habits or income, and as documentation of activities and people you’ve engaged with.
Anything that depicts you in a less-than-favorable light or exercising poor judgment could easily hurt your case. It’s advisable to err on the side of caution and refrain from using social media while you’re in the midst of a custody case.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding your online activities and how they might impact your child custody case you should consult with an attorney.
Another point to keep in mind regarding social media is that the same rules apply to your ex. If there is anything posted on social media or through private messages that you think might help your case you need to consult with your attorney right away. In order for social media activity to be presented as evidence, certain steps must be taken to ensure everything is properly documented and admissible.
6. Stay Positively Engaged in Your Child’s Life
The best thing you can do for the long-run is to exercise your rights and honor your responsibilities as a parent. Even before a formal agreement is made, take every opportunity to be a strong presence in your child’s life, and stay away from mistakes that could make you lose your parental rights.
This is an ongoing issue since you might need to modify your child custody agreement in the future, so it’s important to keep the previously mentioned tips in mind as you move forward.
So, How Do You Win a Child Custody Case?
Understanding how to win a child custody case means realizing that there may not be a clear “winner.”
The only true way to consider the outcome of a custody case a win is when decisions are made based upon the best interest of the children involved.
Don’t leave your children’s future up to chance or in the wrong hands.