Using The Courts To Obtain Child Custody
If you and your spouse cannot agree on child custody, it's best to understand what happens next. Almost any issue during divorce can be difficult, but child custody disagreements can be particularly distressing. To get an idea of what will happen during a contested child custody case, read on.
Your Child's Best Interests
When issues involving a minor-aged child comes up, the family court system uses an overall rule that places the best interests of the child above all else. It cannot be overemphasized how important this edict is for divorcing parents who want to obtain custody. The judge and anyone else making decisions about your situation will concentrate only on what is best for the child. Your job is to show that you can do that too. As soon as you begin to frame child-related issues using that rule, you will begin to think as the court does.
Preparing for Court and Evaluations
In some cases, the court will order you, your spouse, and your child to undergo a child study to evaluate your parental fitness. In other cases, the court system might assign a guardian ad litem to observe your parental/child interactions. Both of these professionals will be making a recommendation to the courts. Whether you are in court, in your home, or at the professional's office, keep the following in mind:
- Be prepared to show that you can provide a safe environment for the child. That means your home is clean and in a safe neighborhood.
- When custody is in contention, one parent may be accused by the other of not being fit to parent. If you are making allegations about drug use, abuse, criminal activity, or other bad parental behavior, be prepared to back those allegations up. You must be able to produce police reports or records, photographs, or witnesses who will testify about your spouse's behavior.
- Be careful not to be disrespectful of the other parent, regardless of how much you want custody. As long as the other parent is fit, the best interest of the child means spending time with both. That translates to encouraging this by agreeing to a generous visitation schedule as well as being careful what you say around your child. Poisoning your child's opinion of the other parent won't win you custody. Along those same lines, refrain from coaching your child before an evaluation or when dealing with a guardian ad litem.
To find out more about putting your best foot forward during custody battles, speak to your divorce lawyer.