There’s more to a child custody case than telling the court that you also deserve custody of your child regardless of what went down between you and your ex-spouse. Before you move forward with the case, it’s important for you to understand the difference between legal and physical custody. You also have to take a step back and objectively decide whether it’s something you can do.
To get you started, here’s an introduction to legal child custody.
This type of custody gives you the legal authority to make major life decisions for your underage child. It lets you decide on your child’s school or child care center, and their religious upbringing. It also lets you make medical care decisions for your child if the situation calls for it. There are two types of legal custody.
- Sole Legal Custody: By having sole custody of your child, you’ll be the only one who has the legal authority to make educational, religious, and health-care related decisions for your child.
- Joint Legal Custody: By agreeing to this, you and your ex-spouse must cooperate to make legal decisions for your child. Joint legal custody doesn’t automatically entail joint physical custody.
On the other hand, physical custody might be more suitable for you.
Physical custody simply refers to where your children will reside after your divorce or annulment has been finalized. You have three options for physical custody including, sole, joint, and bird’s nest custody.
- Sole Physical Custody: When you get sole physical custody, your child physically resides with you. The other parent might be awarded visitation rights if the court deems it appropriate.
- Joint Physical Custody: With this type of physical custody, your child will have to divide their time between living with you and living with their other parent. This division has to be equal.
- Bird’s Nest Custody: Through this type of custody, your child can live comfortably in a central location while you and their other parent take turns living with them in the residence.
When deciding on the legal and physical custody of your child, you have to set aside all differences with your ex-spouse. You have to focus on your child’s needs. And if you think the court wouldn’t grant the type of custody that you’re requesting, then you have to prove to them why they should.
Keep these things in mind when you’re trying to win your child custody case.
Show Willingness to Work with Your Ex-Spouse
Divorces don’t always end on a good note. But if you’re trying to win child custody, you have to show the court that you’re ready to cooperate with your ex-spouse for the benefit of your child. Whatever opinion you may have about your ex-spouse, just keep it to yourself. Don’t be snarky in court. And if your child asks difficult questions about your separation, talk to them in an objective, if not positive, manner.
Show How Interested You Are in Gaining Custody
The court grants custody if they think you can stay true to your word and exercise your parental rights even after the case is over. So if you currently have visitation rights, use that time wisely with your child. Show interest in and dedication to all aspects of parenthood instead of just the fun weekend activities like going to the movies or visiting amusement parks. Also, always arrive on time for your visits and pick-ups.
Show Your Commitment to an Orderly Court Process
Talk to your lawyer about the intricacies of child custody and family law. This way, you’re prepared for what will happen throughout the case and after the court makes its decision. Also, be open to any requests the court might make such as parenting classes or court-mandated therapy. By agreeing to these requests, you’re proving how willing and ready you are to be granted child custody.
Finally, keep in mind that the custody battle shouldn’t be bloody. It’s not about fighting your ex-spouse for custody rights. Rather, it’s about proving your maturity and stability to the court so that they would grant you the custody you’re requesting.