In a divorce, the most important thing is the well-being of your kids. You love them more than anything in the world, and all you want is a fair custody settlement. But how can you make sure that a judge will see it that way?
Your best chances for winning either shared or sole custody begin from the minute you separate. The actions you take before the custody hearing will show the judge your willingness to do what it takes to be a good parent.
Here are some tips to help in your case.
- Show that you are willing to work together with your ex to give your children the best of both of you. Collaborating on schedules and being flexible with your ex are a good start.
- Take advantage of every minute of visitation you have. Spend the time with the kids doing what you’d do if the kids lived with you full-time, such as homework, and not just being the fun parent. Be on time.
- Request an in-home evaluation so a neutral third party can evaluate your surroundings the way they really are – not just the way your ex might paint them.
- Present yourself before the court as a responsible and involved parent. Get to court on time, dress appropriately and be polite. Also, know the things involved parents should know. Who are your children’s teachers? How about the name of their doctor? When was the last time they went to the dentist?
- Don’t say bad things about your ex to the kids.
- Keep a journal of things that have happened while your kids have been with your ex that you think could impact the custody decision. Did your kids tell you they were left alone for a long period of time? Did one of them come home with bruises your ex couldn’t explain?
- Be on time for all planned visits with the kids and scheduled court appearances.
- Don’t abuse alcohol or drugs around the kids. You don’t want to do anything to endanger them – ever.
The fact that a judge is deciding child custody means the two of you weren’t able to come to an agreement and submit a parenting plan of your own. You could have a contentious hearing, and you’ll need an advocate on your side. Don’t delay in working with an attorney experienced in child custody.