No one ever said that going through a divorce would be easy, but things can get downright nasty when it comes to child custody battles. If you’re currently embroiled in a custody battle with your ex-spouse, you need to be prepared for anything and everything.
With your reliable divorce attorney by your side, you can protect yourself, your relationship with your child, and even your finances. Here’s how you can deal with the situation as gracefully as possible.
What is a Custody Battle?
A custody battle is a legal fight, usually by the child’s parents, to be awarded physical or legal custody. This occurs when parents of a child can no longer see eye-to-eye on their child’s upbringing. It can range from one parent being awarded sole custody of the child while the other gets visitation rights to both parents receiving joint legal and physical custody.
Since nobody wants their children to be in the middle of a custody battle, there is usually plenty of animosity between both parents before proceedings begin. But that’s what you should try your best to avoid.
What are Factors for Obtaining Custody?
Many factors will affect who gets awarded custody. These are some of the most common to look out for:
- The child’s wishes
- The relationship between the child and both parents
- The involvement of each parent as a caregiver
- The mental and physical health of both parents
- Whether either parent has engaged in child abuse or other illegal activity around the child
- The criminal records of both parents, if any
- Any history of alcohol or drug abuse by either parent
- The financial stability of each parent, including their ability to pay child support and maintain a suitable lifestyle for the child
The Process of Custody Battles
Litigation is often the most stressful part of custody proceedings. This process can take anywhere from a few months to years, depending on how complicated your case is, which can occur if there are any allegations of abuse or neglect.
Keep in mind that it’s not enough to just show up at court, though; you’ll need to bring evidence with you that proves you deserve custody, such as medical records or an agreement between yourself and the other parent that states you have sole custody of your child.
If litigation is successful, a judge will decide the case, and no jury will be present. If not, a trial will occur with a jury made up of your peers from within the county where the proceedings are being held. This is more common in cases involving domestic violence or sexual abuse allegations.
Tips for Getting Through the Battle and Reaching an Agreement
Even if you don’t think it’s possible to maintain a healthy relationship with your child’s other parent, you will benefit from trying. You can set the tone for your child, letting them know that you both can get through this. Here are some tips:
Tip #1: Be Fair
Think of this as a competition, and you’ll lose. You need to work with the other parent, even if they’re not your favorite person. If you can’t do this, take a step back and think about why.
Tip #2: Listen to Each Other’s Concerns
If there are any issues with your parenting, talk about them and resolve them together. Consider bringing in a mediator if you can’t agree on anything. It is essential to understand that even if it may seem that the other parent is only out to get you, they are also going through a difficult time.
Tip #3: Keep the Kids Separated from the Fight
These proceedings are complicated for your child, so do what you can to keep them out of it. Do not badmouth the other parent in front of your children, and encourage them to see the other parent on their designated days. For better or worse, this can be an opportunity to grow stronger as a family.
Tip #4: Keep Up with Child Support Payments
Child support payments keep your children clothed, fed, and healthy during the proceedings. If your ex is not obeying this request, immediately bring it to the judge’s attention.
Dealing with the Aftermath of a Custody Battle
Even if you win your custody battle, that doesn’t mean everything will immediately settle down. You’ll need to maintain the same level of involvement with your child as before the proceedings, if not more.
The judge will likely want periodic updates on how everyone is doing after the case has ended. This can be especially difficult if you have a strained relationship with your child’s other parent, so use this point as motivation to improve relations between yourselves.
If you’re worried that the other parent is not good, don’t hesitate to bring it up. It can be argued that if anyone involved in the proceedings is not upholding their end of the agreement, it could set a precedent for other parents to also be let off the hook.
Custody proceedings can be complex, but with the proper preparation, you can become your child’s sole custodian. Make sure to listen to the other side’s concerns and keep things as civil as possible. Most importantly, make sure you continue to support your children throughout this challenging time.