If you know someone who has gone through a contentious child custody dispute or have read about the travails of other couples, then you are aware that this can create emotional issues that can poison your future relationship with your spouse and have a profound impact on your children. Should you find that you are battling with your spouse or ex over who will be the primary custodian, here are 7 tips to consider that may help to resolve these issues.
- Refrain from negative expressions about your spouse. Your children are very sensitive about what is said about their other parent. Young children may repeat it to the subject parent, who will only become enraged and exacerbate an already volatile relationship. You are also influencing the child to take sides in the dispute in a very blatant and negative manner. The child may also resent you for it. Further, courts loathe such conduct, and will often consider it against you in determining child custody.
- Refrain from social media. How many times have people gotten into legal or any other trouble for broadcasting their latest expensive Las Vegas vacation, new lover, large expenditure, or other questionable conduct? If child custody is being determined, your persona as an extravagant, carefree, and risk-taking parent will not endear yourself to the court. Social media can also be used to antagonize the other spouse, to cast them in a negative, and often untrue light, and who can take your comments out of context. In most cases, you are only providing fodder for the other parent to use against you.
- Document everything. If you and your spouse and going through a contentious separation or divorce, it is best to document everything in writing. Maintain email and text message records between you and your spouse. Also, keep a record of your visits with your children, parent-teacher appointments, child’s medical appointments, and any other events shared with them. This can demonstrate your commitment and selflessness in prioritizing your child’s well-being. It helps to write down the names of your child’s teachers, coaches, doctors and friends if your dedication to their overall well-being is being questioned. If the other parent is perpetually late or too early with a pickup or drop-off, keep a record of the times. This can also be essential once custody has been established and the non-custodial parent is engaging in this behavior, which can reduce that individual’s parenting time.
- Work out a custody or parenting plan. You are required to work out a parenting plan or the court will do it for you. The plan will include days and times as well as locations for drop-offs and pick-ups. In some cases, these are done at locations other than the homes such as a pre-school or child services center if there is a threat of a violent confrontation. Your plan must include vacation and holiday times, birthdays, and special events.
- Be flexible. There are always times when a parent cannot meet the schedule, is ill, or has a commitment that cannot be changed. If some aspect of the schedule is not working out, then decide on an alternative arrangement. If you accommodate your spouse, this will encourage similar conduct by your spouse when you are unable to adhere to a schedule that can lead to increased cooperation in other areas.
- Maintain the same routine but recognize that this is a new family dynamic. Your child will be more comfortable by maintaining continuity with certain traditions. But you can also create new ones with your children that are unique to you and your child that can create positive memories.
- Do not be afraid of mediation. Often, it takes a neutral and impartial individual to listen to both sides, and to work out a custody or parenting plan. Compromises are necessary in these cases and a condition that you may have thought unreasonable or unworkable may turn out to be the opposite. If problems do arise in the future that you are not resolving, consider mediation again.
These are some important tips if you are in a custody fight or wish to modify a parenting plan. Your divorce lawyer can make other suggestions that are tailored to your specific circumstances.
Consult Divorce Lawyer Heather M. Ward
Attorney Heather M. Ward practices exclusively in the area of family law and has the experience, knowledge and dedication that divorce clients need. If you have child custody issues, then call Ms. Ward to schedule a consultation at (617) 906-7554.