Every year, over 780,000 divorces occur in the US. Many of these involve children and custody battles between the parties.
If you are fighting your spouse for custody of your children, there are some things you should do (and some things to avoid) to improve your chances of success.
To learn more about how to win a custody battle, read on for a list of dos and don’ts to help your case.
Child Custody Dos
When fighting your ex-partner for custody of your child or children, remember that their best interests should be the guiding force behind your fight. If you truly believe that you are the best parent for them, then you’ll want to do everything to ensure your success.
Try to Work With Your Ex
The courts tend to look favorably on parents who try to work together, are civil, and can demonstrate that they are adult enough to handle a custody arrangement. Try your best to settle the custody dispute out of court. If your ex isn’t cooperating and refuses to work with you, document this as it can demonstrate your willingness to co-parent.
Exercise Your Parental Rights
Make sure you exercise any parental rights that you have. If you have visitation, show up for the visits. Pay child support, participate in school conferences, attend games or performances, and otherwise be involved in your child’s life.
Spend as much time with them as you can and do the everyday tasks that need to be taken care of, such as doctor’s appointments and homework, rather than leaving those to your ex. This shows your willingness to take on the responsibility of parenting.
Be Prepared for Scrutiny
Be prepared for all aspects of your life to be scrutinized during the custody battle. Your personal life, what you do for fun, your family life, your home life—it’s all fair game for scrutiny in court.
It’s wise to lay low and avoid any situations that could be perceived the wrong way while the case is ongoing.
Any time you communicate with your ex, document it. Take screenshots of text messages, messages on social media, and save any voicemails or other recordings. This information may become useful if the case ends up in court and your attorney needs to document your willingness to co-parent and your ex’s refusal to collaborate.
Hire an Experienced Child Custody Attorney
Don’t try to fight for custody alone, especially if your ex has an attorney. An experienced child custody attorney can help you navigate the system, advise you on what to do and what not to do, and help you present your best case to get custody of your child or children.
Child Custody Don’ts
Remember that everything you do is being scrutinized. Just like you are documenting things, your ex is documenting your behavior as well. Keep these things in mind as the case is ongoing.
Don’t Arrive Late or Reschedule
If you have a visit set up, don’t arrive late and avoid rescheduling if at all possible. Whether you have a legitimate reason or not, this will be perceived as an inability to prioritize your children and will often be spun to argue that you shouldn’t get custody as you are not reliable and can’t care for them.
Arriving late will also be perceived negatively, as it could indicate that you won’t be on time to pick them up from school or other events.
Don’t Drink or Use Drugs
Your attorney may advise you to avoid drinking alcohol at all during the case, especially when your children are around. Any type of drugs should also be avoided for obvious reasons.
Keep in mind that even if you’re out for a quick drink with friends, pictures may end up on social media that can be interpreted the wrong way. It’s likely a good idea to avoid any sort of alcohol until the case is resolved.
Don’t Post on Social Media
Speaking of social media, keep your custody battle off of if it. Don’t post anything about the court proceedings, anything negative about your ex, or anything about your life (especially pictures) that could be perceived negatively and used against you in court.
It might even be wise to avoid social media altogether while the case is in progress.
Don’t Refuse Any Court Orders or Recommendations
If the court recommends any sort of parenting classes, mediation, or the like, make sure you follow through with these recommendations. If it’s a court order you must follow through, but it’s wise to take any recommendations as well. This demonstrates your willingness to do what it takes to do what’s best for your children.
Don’t Lie to Your Attorney
Be completely honest with your attorney. Don’t lie to them about yourself or your ex.
You want them to put forth the best case possible to successfully get you custody. To do that, they need accurate and truthful information. You don’t want your attorney to discover that you’ve been lying while you’re in the middle of a custody hearing or other court date.
How to Win a Custody Battle: Follow These Tips
There’s no specific formula for how to win a custody battle. Unfortunately, it’s often a long, drawn-out, and emotionally draining process. The key is to remember why you’re fighting: for your child or children.
Looking out for the best interests of your children is reason enough to take a look at your life and make smart choices that will benefit your family.
If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of fighting for custody, contact us today. We can help you navigate the custody and child support process.