Custody battles can be emotionally taxing, even more so when you’re going up against an ex who will stop at nothing to win over the judge and make you look like the bad guy in court.
If you’re embroiled in a child custody dispute with your ex, these five tips will help ensure that you come out on top.
1. Gather Your Information
Depending on where you live, there are different methods that must be used when filing for custody. First, you’ll need information on current and past parenting arrangements, including any mediation or court proceedings.
You’ll also want contact information for your ex-spouse and your children (as well as their guardians) so that you can include them in all decisions going forward.
The more factual details surrounding custody decisions, including specific time periods and legal documents filed by each parent, the better off you’ll be in negotiations and court hearings.
2. Know Your Custody Rights
Contrary to popular belief, mothers are not automatically given sole custody of their children in most situations. Generally speaking, divorced parents share joint physical and legal custody of their children.
That being said, even when both parents have equal rights to make decisions about their children’s lives, a parent who is mentally or physically unfit can lose certain powers by default.
3. Get an Experienced Family Law Lawyer
According to family law experts, one of the most common mistakes parents who are going through a custody battle make is hiring an inexperienced lawyer.
You need to hire someone who’s been practicing family law for a long time and has experience in juvenile law.
You should never hire a lawyer that doesn’t have those qualifications. Many custody battles could be avoided if both parents hired qualified lawyers early on in their divorce proceedings.
4. Take Care of Anything That Could Affect Your Case
When you know that a custody battle is likely, it’s important to take care of anything that could affect your case.
For example, it might be smart to start taking steps now so that your credit score is strong. Judges often look at things like high credit card balances and past late payments as red flags for people who aren’t responsible or can’t meet their obligations.
If you have any way of improving your financial situation (e.g., a new job), it’s wise to do so before court proceedings begin.
5. Don’t Lose Your Cool
Keeping your emotions in check is one of your best weapons when it comes to winning a custody battle.
Keep in mind that, at its core, a custody case is about what’s best for your children, not you or your soon-to-be-ex. As such, knowing how and when to speak up and stay silent is an essential skill for any parent going through a divorce.
Understand that it’s important for you to protect your interests as well as your child’s interests during a child custody battle because everyone wants what’s best for their children. That means making sure they have both parents involved in their lives after divorce or separation.
More importantly, make sure to hire an experienced custody lawyer to ensure that your best interests, as well as those of your child, are taken care of.