Every parent facing a divorce worries about losing custody with his or her child, and perhaps never even seeing their children again. The decisions you make before and during your divorce can affect the outcome of your case, and you can set yourself up to accomplish your goals in a custody case. Much of what happens in court is within your control, so planning ahead and behaving in a way that increases your odds of winning are critical for your success.
Be a Good Parent Before the Divorce
If you’re not yet divorced but are contemplating leaving your spouse, now is the time to focus on being a good parent. The judge will look at your relationship with your child pre-divorce as part of the process of evaluating the best interests of your child. Gather evidence of your time with your child and of any problematic behavior by your ex, while focusing on nurturing a strong, steady bond with your child.
Treat Your Ex With Decency
You don’t have to love your ex anymore, but you do have to treat them with respect. Abusive behavior, bombastic texts, and constant fighting will all weigh against you. Even if your ex is unreasonable, your reasonable behavior can stand as a strong contrast to your ex, and this can boost your chances of winning custody.
Don’t Interfere With Your Ex’s Relationship With Your Child
One of the worst ways to harm your child is to try to harm his or her relationship with your ex. Do not do this, for any reason, even in subtle ways. Help your child continue a relationship with your ex, even if it will be painful for you. Doing so proves to the judge that you care about your child’s well being. Judges may reduce or remove custody entirely for parents who deny their ex visitation or who try to harm their child’s relationship with the other parent.
Provide a Stable Environment
One of the key factors the judge will evaluate when determining whether it is in your child’s best interest to live with you is the quality of the environment you provide. Essentially, this boils down to being a good parent. Doing some of the following can help:
* Be involved in your child’s life by going to sports games, helping with homework, and being a regular presence at school. If you have witnesses who can report on your involvement, even better.
* Do not physically or psychologically abuse your child. This includes spanking, badmouthing your ex, insulting your child, mean-spirited and unreasonable punishments, and calling your child names.
* Be present. Do not neglect your child for a new boyfriend or girlfriend.
* Maintain a clean, healthy, safe house. Ensure any pets you have are safe for your child to be around.
* Remain up-to-date on developmentally appropriate activities and behavior. For example, feeding your child a healthy diet, reading to him or her, and helping him or her learn to talk all demonstrate caring and a commitment to your child’s well being.
Behave Calmly and Professionally
A judge won’t make a custody decision solely based on your courtroom behavior, but if you come across as unreasonable or unstable, this can weigh against you – particularly if the judge is on the fence. To appear as professional and reasonable as possible, follow the following tips:
* Wear modest, business-style clothing to court. Both men and women should wear suits or business casual attire. Cover any tattoos or piercings, and ensure you are well groomed
* Be polite to the judge, your ex, and your ex’s attorney
* Do whatever the judge tells you to without complaint or hostility
* Never roll your eyes, scoff, or show other reactions in court
* Present yourself as a kind and friendly person in court. Remember, the judge is evaluating the kind of parent you are. Act like the kind of parent you want to be
If you would like to hire an attorney who will help you apply those strategies to your Florida divorce, call attorney Albert Goodwin today.