Child custody battles are traumatic and expensive — and not beneficial for your children. Nobody really wants to end up fighting about custody in court.
But what if you don’t have a choice? If the other parent is abusive, addicted, mentally ill or alcoholic, a custody battle might be necessary to best protect your children. Here are some tips that may help you win your case:
1. Document your attempts to work with the other parent.
You never want to appear unwilling to compromise or punitive toward your former partner. Stay polite, don’t engage in “ex-bashing,” and document your attempts to craft a workable custody and visitation/parenting plan without the court’s involvement.
2. Be open to alternative solutions (or suggest them).
In all but the most extreme circumstances, the courts want children to have the benefit of a connection to both their parents. Even if you don’t think your children should be left alone with their other parent for some reason, you can suggest supervised visitation and make liberal use of electronic communication so that your kids can maintain a relationship with both parents.
3. Don’t fall into a trap.
Perception can be everything in a custody battle, so be particularly conscious about how your actions may seem to the court. For example, if you’re saying that your ex-partner is abusive and volatile, you certainly don’t want to lose your temper over something in front of the judge. Remember that your ex-partner may be trying to deliberately provoke you in some way — just to make you “look bad” in front of the court.
4. Obey the court’s orders — even if you don’t like them.
Don’t violate the court’s orders. You can’t win a custody battle by defying the judge or the system — and doing so could hurt your case. Attend every counseling visit; participate in every court-ordered mediation session; be gracious about in-home custody evaluations if they’re required. The court is most definitely watching.
Custody battles are never easy, so it’s important to get experienced legal advice about your situation from the very start. Find out more about what can be done to assert your rights and protect your children during this time.