Going through a child custody dispute might be one of a parent's most stressful situations, especially if they do not know what to expect. However, even when you are not the one making things difficult, it is essential to go into court with a robust action plan to prove your case. Our family law practice in Orlando offers the following tips for increasing the chances of the outcome you want to achieve:
Before becoming entangled in a long, contentious child custody fight, ask yourself if you can avoid it. Parents who want full or sole custody often find themselves in the courtroom, engaged in a terrible battle because neither parent is willing to make compromises to come to an amicable agreement. In cases like this, the court has the power to decide who will win, and many parents are shocked by the result- partially because there is a more extensive burden of proof expected from a parent seeking full custody.
That is why it is crucial to consider if it is possible to make a compromise and whether joint custody may be in the best interest of your child by allowing the safest environment and greatest stability for their future. If you still think sole custody filing is your only or best option after careful consideration, you will need to be well prepared for what happens next.
Being prepared means understanding child custody laws in the state you reside, hiring a qualified and experienced attorney, and doing your homework. Above all else, do not automatically assume that a judge will rule on your case from your point of view. However, the sole purpose of the court is to do whatever is in the best interest of your child, so convincing the court that you have the same intention can be very helpful for your case. Here are things you can do to help show you have your child’s best interests in mind:
You need to prove that you can provide a healthy and stable physical environment if you want the court to grant you custody. Judges can be flexible about living accommodations, but you need to be ready to prove that you can provide living arrangements with plenty of space for you and your kids. If your ex-partner lives in your family home and you must find a new place, consider living somewhere close to them. Courts often like to maintain the status quo, so the least amount of disruptions to your child's regular daily routine will look good for your case.
It is helpful to know about your kid’s friends, favorite hobbies, and education. Also, be able to confirm if they have special needs, medical issues, or allergies that affect their wellbeing. Finally, if you want to be your children’s primary care provider, it is essential to show the court you care enough to know the most minute details of their lives.
The willingness of both parents to facilitate and support the relationship with the other parent is critical to the judge. Courts want to be confident that neither parent will stand in the way of the children having a healthy relationship with the other. In addition, they never look favorably on parents who speak negatively about the other in front of the children or interfere in any way with visitation.
For best results in a custody fight, you must be ready for your hearing where the court will decide after considering the following factors:
Documentation: Both parents are allowed to share relevant documentation with the court that has been collected. This evidence often includes visitation and phone logs (mainly when they include inconsistencies with a spouse’s pre-ordered visitation schedule) and notes on observations about your child’s wellbeing while in the other parent’s care- like if you see behavioral changes like anger or aggression.
Proper etiquette in court: A judge will usually consider the parents’ appearance in court, even though this seems superficial. These considerations will include your demeanor, attitude, and how you are dressed during your hearing.
The better parent standard: It is essential for parents in a custody fight to be aware that what makes one parent better in the eyes of the court may not be the same as their idea of a good parent.
Witnesses: A judge desires having a clear picture of your parenting skills, so ask teachers, neighbors, family members, and anyone else who can help to testify for you in court.
Parents who do not receive primary custody during a child custody hearing are usually entitled to a generous offering of visitation rights. Courts are inclined to believe that it is in a child’s best interest to have a relationship with both of their parents. So no matter what happens in your custody hearing, it is always in your best interest to remain involved in your child's life. Many parents choose to work together to create a formal parenting plan to divide custody responsibilities and show their children they are willing to work with one another for the good of everyone involved.
It helps to keep in mind that taking your ex-partner to court for custody of your child is a challenging process. If you feel it is avoidable, you should do your best to work with the other parent to find another option. Leaving the decision in the hands of the court system takes away your family's power in the matter. If you see no other way forward, you should hire an attorney to represent you in the case and follow these tips to keep the proceedings moving in your favor. An experienced attorney can guide you through more details and specifics based on your particular situation. Remember not to talk badly about the other parent in front of your children to avoid looking like a bad parent in court.
These are tips for winning a child custody battle, but the best way to win is to do your best to avoid one entirely. So, contact our family law practice in Orlando for assistance with your child custody matter. We are here to help protect the interests of you and your child.