Preparing for a custody battle can be one of the scariest and most difficult things you have to do.
While fathers can, and often do, get full or joint custody of their children, it can often be a tougher fight than it is for mothers.
Following this tips and hiring a good attorney can help level the playing field.
Be an active participant in your children’s lives.
During a custody trial the court will take into consideration which parent is the primary caregiver of the children. It is typically considered to be in the best interest of the children for this party to be the custodial parent.
You will essentially have to prove your level of involvement in your children’s lives. The court may consider the following:
- Who takes the child to school?
- Who goes to parent teacher conferences?
- Who helps with homework?
- Who goes to doctors appointments?
- Who goes to playdates?
- Who takes off work when the children are sick?
- Who puts the children to bed? Feeds them? Gives them baths?
Be cautious about temporary agreements or orders.
Never sign an agreement or enter into an order on consent without careful consideration. What you agree to temporarily will often become what the judge orders since judges are typically hesitant to change the status quo.
If you do come to a temporary agreement with the other parent, be sure to review the agreement with an attorney and get in writing.
Temporary decisions are important. It’s better to have the judge order something you object to than to agree to something you don’t want. If you never agreed you will have a stronger argument for the final decision.
Be on the offense.
When possible, it could be to your strategic advantage to file first. Being the Plaintiff will not have a direct effect on the outcome of the case, but if you are the one to file first that means you already have an attorney and a plan in place.
If you file first, you’ll have time to explore various strategies with your attorney and may be able to start taking actions that will help you in your case. For example, becoming more involved in your children’s education. You’ll also have a better opportunity to become financially prepared for a custody battle.
If your spouse files first and you are caught by surprise, you’re at a slight disadvantage strategically. If you are not prepared, you’ll have to scramble to find an attorney and the process will be on your spouse’s timeline and not yours.
Be on your best behavior before during and after the custody case.
Keep in mind that everything you do can be brought as evidence before the court. Be careful about what you put on social media, texts, and emails. Don’t let a moment of anger ruin your chances at a quality relationship with your children.
Don’t get provoked. You have the power to control your words and actions.
Be honest with your lawyer.
I’ve had a number of custody cases tank due to client’s failure to give me pertinent information. It’s not my job to judge you, it’s my job to help you maintain a meaningful relationship with your children. I can’t help you do that if I don’t have ALL the facts.
Let your lawyer know everything that is going on in your life. What happens at work matters, all of your relationships matter, anything violent or illegal you have done in the past matters.
A lot of weight will be given to the credibility of your testimony. If the court catches you in a lie or omission, it can be nearly impossible to overcome that distrust.
The children are the top priority.
No matter how much you dislike your ex, your child still has a right to have a relationship with them. Always keep in mind that this is your child’s other parent, and strive to give that relationship the respect it deserves.
Your child’s feelings matter more than yours. Put their need to have a relationship with both parents over your need to “win.”
As always, this is legal information, not legal advice. Every case is different so contact a New York child custody attorney to learn options for your specific situation.
Ready to plan your upcoming custody battle? Schedule your case strategy session today.