What You Should Know in Order to Win Your Child Custody Case
More often than many people believe, parents end up in court, fighting the child custody battle with their ex-spouse or significant other. Since the parents cannot reach an agreement on their own, it is left up to the court (judge) to decide which parent will hold primary custody of the child or children from the relationship. For parents who wish to be awarded custody, they will need to prepare their argument in order to convince the judge to feel the same way. Here are some ways parents can prepare for their case.
What Courts Consider During Child Custody Cases
When courts are deciding which parent to award residential child custody to, there are a number of factors taken into consideration:
- “Better Parent Standard” – Courts are primarily interested in doing what is best for the child. This is specifically known as the “best interests of the child” standard, and it relies on various elements being shown to the court. In order to do this, they will work to place the child with the parent who has established themselves as the “better parent” or better emotional and financial provider for the child. This will be based on the past and will entail witnesses to testify as to who did what for their child prior to the parties split. This is probably the single most important element when it comes to preparing to win a child custody fight against the other parent.
- Court Etiquette – Whoever said that you cannot judge a book by its cover was 100% incorrect. A Judge will do so. How the parent appears to the court will play a role in their overall decision. For example, a mother who is well dressed and practices their manners will generally be viewed as a better option over a father wearing dirty jeans and swearing in the courtroom. Sweatpants and low cut shirts or t-shirts are inappropriate. There is a reason why lawyers wear suits and ties – because court is a formal event. Dress nicely, unless you are wearing a ball gown or tuxedo, chances are you are not overdressed for court. And always remember, only speak when spoken to, interruptions will only make a judge angry and will ensure that he/she does not listen to you when it is your turn to speak.
- Proper Documentation – Court officials will also look for parents who are prepared with the proper documentation for the case. This preparedness shows that they are serious about wanting to have custody of their children and are willing to go above and beyond to get it. Showing up with papers unorganized, and missing essential exhibits for your hearing/trial is a quick way to lose your case at the last moment. Showing up with multiple copies of every exhibit and detailed questions and answers prepared is the only way to win your custody case and this means preparing weeks if not a month in advance.
- Parent Communication – Courts will always choose the option of having both parents involved in the child’s life if at all possible. So, when one parent is more willing to communicate than the other, the court will see that parent as having the child’s best interests at heart. This means that ignoring your ex’s phone calls, text messages, or emails regarding your children is no way to show the court that you are trying to work together for the children’s best interests. If you want to win a child custody fight over your kids, working on communication with your ex is essential.
Visitation Arrangements During Custody Cases
During the custody case, courts will grant one parent primary physical custody until an arrangement has been established. While one parent will have custody, the court will also insist on generous visitation rights for the other parent in order to keep both parents involved in the child’s day to day life. When considering these visitation arrangements, courts will consider the following factors:
- Communication level between the parents
- If there is currently a parenting plan in place
- Involvement level of both parents in the child’s life
- The child’s best interest and welfare
Keep in mind that the initial, temporary custody arrangement that a judge orders does not mean that this is how the judge will decide in the end. And it is not out of the question to request a 50/50 parenting time plan until the final hearing date as well. This can help show to the judge that you are ready right now to begin taking care of your child on a full-time basis. Whatever you do, make sure that you are prepared, respectful, and always follow the advice of your attorney so that you can have the best chance to win a child custody fight with your ex!