Working through custody agreements can be stressful, but it is important to fight for what is best for your family when the opportunity arises. While custody agreements can be adjusted and revisited over time, it is easier to get this right from the beginning of shared agreements if at all possible. Whether you are seeking full or partial custody, having the right attorney on your side can make all of the difference. Here are seven strategies designed to help you get the best custody agreement possible for your family.
1. Have a Plan Mapped Out
Custody agreement meetings can rely heavily on practical matters, such as living locations, schedules, and what is ultimately the easiest arrangement for kids. If you can take a proactive approach to questions that might come up, this can help you stay actively engaged with the process and ready to take on challenges with custody that your ex spouse might not be able to do. This might involve showcasing your proximity to schools and activities, your willingness to meet your ex halfway for drop-offs and pick-ups, and being flexible with summers and holidays if you are ultimately aiming for sole custody.
2. Opt for Facts and Examples, not Emotions
While going through a divorce can be an emotional time, keeping your emotions in check when it comes to working through the details of your divorce or custody agreement can be a benefit. Work closely with your divorce attorney to gather facts and evidence that will paint you in a good light. If you can come to the table with concrete facts, examples, and back-up when it comes to pleading your custody case, you will look prepared and logical to those ultimately making the decisions. These are the details that can sway a judge to grant you the custody agreement that is ultimately best for your children.
3. Be Realistic
It is important to take stock of your situation and try to avoid being stubborn when it comes to asking for the custody agreement you want. If your ex spouse is hoping for a different custody arrangement, this can escalate quickly if you aren’t on the same page. Be sure to keep your child’s needs in mind. While your ex spouse might not have been the best partner, that doesn’t mean they aren’t a good parent. Courts and judges will see this, so make sure you are honest about your situation and agreeing to an amicable resolution that might work for all.
4. Opt for Mediation
If you and your ex spouse are on good terms, think about mediation over a divorce that could involve extensive time in court or legal fees. If you don’t think you can reach a custody agreement on your own, this doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to do this with a little help from a mediator. While your attorney can help with various aspects of your divorce and will be great for getting facts in order and advice, sometimes more ambiguous agreements such as custody arrangements can be agreed upon together with the help of mediation.
5. Fight for What’s Right
While you might not want to rock the boat when it comes to your divorce, where and how your children are raised needs to be your priority. If your ex spouse is fighting for partial or full custody and you don’t feel as if this will be the best option for your child’s needs, this is the time to speak up. Make sure to lay out all of your arguments and facts ahead of time with your attorney so they can review your case and let you know if they think your custody options are viable, and how hard to fight for these. While this might make your divorce more messy in the process, the overall, long-term outcome for your children will make this worth it.
6. Don’t Put Your Child in the Middle
Depending on the ages of your children, they might be protected from most of the details of a divorce. If your children are older, they might be more in tune with what is going on than you realize. It can also be easy to see teens as young adults, and want to turn to them as confidants. Don’t forget that your children have love for both of their parents. Even if your ex wasn’t great to you, that doesn’t mean your children don’t still love them. Don’t put kids in the middle, and don’t have them get put in a situation where they are forced to get involved in legal proceedings if you can help it.
7. Be on Your Best Behavior at All Times
If there is any worry that your optimal custody arrangement might be contested in court or by your ex spouse, being the ‘best you’ during the process inside and outside of divorce proceedings can be just as important. Stick to current visitation agreements you have set up tentatively, so that you are showing your capacity to hold up your end of the bargain. Don’t talk badly about your ex to others or to your kids, no matter how tempting this might be. Don’t post incriminating things online such as going out to bars or controversial comments. You never know what might get back to your ex or attorneys and be taken out of context.
Going through a divorce can be tough on a family, but keeping your long-term goals and your child’s safety in mind can make a difference when it comes to major decisions and outcomes. No matter what your hopes are when it comes to a custody agreement, having a good attorney on your side, knowing the facts surrounding your case, and keeping your child’s needs in mind can all make a difference. You want to put yourself in the best light possible to ensure that your children and family get the outcome they need for the future. If you have questions or concerns regarding your current custody arrangement or mapping out future custody needs, contact us to help you navigate the process.