Last Updated: June 1, 2022
Fights for child custody (also known as the allocation of parental responsibilities) are never pleasant but as with most disputes, someone emerges victorious. If you know some of the top secrets for winning custody battles that experienced attorneys know, you will be a step ahead of your ex when it comes time to throw down. The ability to speak with an expert child custody attorney today is simple and almost all custody lawyers provide free family case consultations!
Parents who are the most prepared typically win fights for custody over their children. Courts base their decisions primarily on what they determine is in the “best interests of the children”, which is a legal standard that every state applies in slightly different fashion. The winning parents are typically able to supply documentation that proves they are best able to provide a stable, healthy environment for the child. Here, we will teach you the top 3-secrets to winning your child custody battle!
Top 3-Secrets to Winning Child Custody
Numerous factors go into determining who should win a custody case in court. Of the many factors, there are a few main secrets that every client needs to know. These secrets are knowing the specific elements the courts use to determine the legal standard of “the best interests of the child.”
The top three in virtually every state are the following:
- Stable Living Environment
- Ability of the Parents to Cooperate and Co-parent
- Level of Participation in the Child’s Life
Not a single one of these factors is the silver bullet to winning – it is the combination of these that puts you in position to make a positive impact to the judge and win your custody case.
Stable Living Arrangement
Courts have a primary goal of providing stable living environments for children. This is at the center of custody arguments. A parent who cannot maintain a job, provide a stable home, or provide proper care for children is not likely to win custody or be awarded the primary decision maker. A stable living arrangement can take on different forms that all need to be explored as they relate to your particular case. Having held down a steady job and/or be on a positive career path shows the court that you are able to provide financially for your family.
Living in one place for a long time shows that you have roots in your community and will not uproot your child at a moments notice. In some situations, like a divorce, this might not be possible as you may need to move out. But having a history of moving every year or two for a decade is not good and exploring a long-term lease that can be presented to the court can help to eliminate the prior moves from being a negative.
Having a home that has adequate furniture and clothing is essential. In many cases, the court will appoint a child representative to the case to investigate each parents living arrangements. This attorney (the child representative) will then report to the court what he or she sees and give a recommendation to the judge who will, in 90% of cases, follow that recommendation. Make the child rep your best friend. But the child representative needs to see that the child has his/her own bedroom, furniture, clothing, and food in the fridge (an no drugs or alcohol in view). Get your place furnished and clean!
Ability of the Parents to Cooperate and Co-Parent
This is one of those factors that many people – even other attorneys – don’t pa attention to nearly enough. Almost every single state now has their specific laws written with the goal of having parents share joint custody (share the allocation of parental responsibilities) with each other. In the past, courts would oftentimes award 1-parent sole custody, but the goal now is to initially view both parents as being equal until proven otherwise.
Because the courts want people to co-parent, it is essential for a person fighting for custody to show the court that you do all you can to foster a healthy relationship when it comes to parenting. This means changing a written (or unwritten) temporary parenting schedule when something comes up, like a flat tire or your ex going out of town. Make sure it is in writing so that can be shown to the judge when the time comes.
When one parent consistently shows that their concern is for the children and not to hurt the other parent, that parent has effectively proven they are willing to co-parent. This is even more important even if the other parent won’t do so in return. A parent that engages in actions that impede visitation rights and parenting time of the other parent is a huge negative. In some cases, this type of behavior can cause an adult to lose previously awarded custody of children. Show, with written proof, that you are and have been willing and able to co-parent – that you are the parent that makes changes for the other parent when requested, and that you are the parent that drops it all to do what’s best for your kids.
Level of Participation in Child’s Life
This is one of those factors that isn’t necessarily a secret. However, being able to put it into practice quickly without a long-term track record is something you need to learn how to do. If you have a history of being very involved (equally or more), then you have a huge head start. This means being involved in pick-ups and drop-offs at school, being active in extracurricular activities, and being present for doctors appointments. Not every parent, for valid reasons, has a long track record of this though.
Parents that do not have a history of being equally involved in their child’s everyday life need to do something to change the narrative in court. This means overcompensating immediately. Find a sport or extracurricular activity and sign your child up for it and sign up to be a coach/instructor/assistant for the team or activity. Get the doctors information and the next time your child might be sick, you call, you make the appointment, and you bring your child. Whether your child is doing well in school or not, regardless of the grade level, call the teacher or administration and ask if they can schedule you for a meeting so that you can find out what your child needs to work on more at home to excel in school. If and when a child representative then contacts the school to ask about the child, they will say that you were recently there inquiring how to help your child do better.
Additional Factors and Secrets to Know
When making initial custody determinations, courts look at many additional factors including the relationship of each parent with the children and the ability, disposition, and personality of parents as these pertain to child rearing. Mental and physical health of each adult are assessed and courts even go as far as investigating the motive of each parent to win custody of kids. In many instances, the court may order a psychological evaluation of both of the parties to see if there exists psychological issues in one of the parents.
If children are old enough, courts may consider their living preferences. Other considerations include where each parent lives and the quality of the educational system within these areas. Parents can increase their chances of winning a custody battle by preparing a case that positively addresses each of these factors.
It can be difficult to change the initial custody decision that a court makes, but a parent should not be afraid to exercise custody rights if the other parent runs into trouble with drugs, alcohol, or the anything else that is extremely negative. If a custodial parent tries to move far away that impacts the parenting time rights of the other parent, it may be time to reexamine the custody decision as well. Custody arrangements may also be changed if one parent takes a new job that makes childcare more difficult.
Next Steps to Win Custody
Winning a custody battle is an accomplishment that is made easier with the help of an experienced lawyer – that should go without saying. Even before the attorney can begin preparing your case for court, the above secrets should be implemented to position yourself for victory. Get started, evaluate the facts of your personal case, start the work needed applying these secrets to winning your custody case and speak with an attorney for a free consultation.