While equal timesharing is becoming the post-divorce norm, parents sometimes still find themselves at a disadvantage while fighting for their share of physical and legal custody of their children. However, parents can take steps to increase their chances of being granted equal custody.
How a parent can improve their chances in Custody Cases
- The most basic step is for the parent to remain in the marital home, even following the initial divorce procedures. For example, fathers are likely to move out at the mother’s request during this difficult process. This is a huge mistake. The moment a father steps out that door, the mother is the de factor primary caretaker of the children. Child support will also kick in. It’s important to prove to a judge that the parent did not give up on the other parent and child. It does not matter if the father has to sleep in the literal or metaphorical doghouse, he should not leave.
- Judges consider involved parents to be in the best interest of the child. So, it’s important for a parent to prove their involvement with the children. This can be done by getting involved in activities, attending school events, and/or arranging for activities such as lessons or sports. It’s equally important to show the Court that the parent is there emotionally and physically for the children.
- Parents should keep a record of all written communication with the other parent as proof of all the activities he is involved in. For example, an email stating that a father will pick up the kids at noon on Saturday for the ballgame is tangible evidence of time spent with them.
- Parents need to treat custodial visits as important – be available, be punctual, and return the children in a timely manner. Avoid having to reschedule visits, as the court will not view this to be in the children’s best interest.
- The parent should avoid any argument with the ex-spouse relating to the children. Instead, parents should be respectful and cooperative. Parents should work with the other parent in good faith for the sake of the children.
- A good family law attorney can prove invaluable in building a sound case for equal custody and help counteract any lies from the other side.
Have a Plan
A judge will be pleased at seeing a parent taking an interest in being with the children. However, custody involves more than spending time with children. It means, for example:
-creating a suitable home;
-establishing a co-parenting schedule;
-knowing what to do in the event of healthcare needs; and
-knowing how the job affects custodial time.
It goes to being prepared and having a plan and will help build a custody case when a parent can show a judge that they can provide for the child’s day-to-day care, not just take him or her to the zoo.
Remember Your Goal
As a parent, having equal custody of your children and winning your case in court is important. However, it is important to ask yourself what you want to “win.” Does winning equal getting even with the other parent or do you want to create a genuine life with the children?
Custody involves both legal and physical custody. Physical custody (or timesharing) refers to the time the child spends with each parent. Legal custody refers to who makes the decisions regarding the child when it comes to education, healthcare, and daily routine. In Florida, this is known as shared parental responsibility; and courts are likely to award shared parental responsibility to both parents unless there is a history of neglect, violence, and/or substance abuse. If such a history exists, the court is far more like to grant custody to the other parent.
A good parent fights for custody of the children because it is in the child’s best interest to have two involved parents. The children need to remain the focus, not getting leverage over the other parent. Your case should be built on demonstrating all the ways the child will benefit from being with you and proving that you have the skills to handle the day-to-day issues of raising a child. This is what a Florida court looks for when deciding on how to divide custody between the parents.
The legal process can get difficult, which is why we always recommend that you seek the assistance of counsel; or at least have a consultation. Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today to review the issues of your case, the legal options you may have, and certain rights that pertain to your unique situation.
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