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|Information that may help you with a child custody case!|
A few helpful tips
||Do's and Don'ts of custody|
1. Try to settle outside of court first. Consider mediation; if you and your (ex)spouse are on somewhat decent terms, try to talk to them about setting up arrangements.
2. Meet with legal representatives. Donít go into battle alone; talk to a attorney about your chances of winning the case, the steps you need to take, and what you should expect.
3. Keep the drama to a minimum. Children know when their parents are fighting and often tend to feel guilty if they know the fight is over them. Leave them out of it; donít try to put them in the middle or involve them in any way. Donít fight with your (ex)spouse in front of them and donít talk badly about them to your children.
4. Try to remain objective. Put your childrenís best interest first; donít focus on getting revenge on your (ex) spouse. Ask yourself why youíre fighting Ė Is the other parent dangerous? Are the children truly better off in your care? Is it just because you disagree with their parenting style or because you want to hurt them?
5. Fight for the right reasons. This goes back to the previous tip. If the other parent is dangerous and/or abusive, then sure, itís best to do all you can to gain custody of your children. But donít fight to ďtake awayĒ the children because you want to hurt the other parent or because you want to gain leverage over them in the financial issues of your divorce.
6. Remain calm. Donít send threatening text messages, make angry phone calls or send hateful emails. All of this can be used as proof against you in the battle. Keep your personal business off of social media as well.
7. Continue to love and support your children unconditionally. Especially during this time. Custody battles can be difficult on children, as they often feel torn over their parents. Be the best parent you can possibly be during this time; not to simply win the case, but because thatís what your children need.
8. Donít keep your children from the other parent. Try to find a balance between the two of you until the case has been settled. You donít want your children angry at you for not letting them see the other parent. Theyíve certainly done nothing wrong, so why punish them by preventing them from spending time with their other parent?
9. When it comes to making decisions, remember your children. The court is going to want to see that you know how to do whatever is best for your children and that you wonít hesitate to do so Ė whether thatís getting a second job, moving closer to their school, etc.
10. Donít spread lies or make false accusations about the other parent. Remember how we said to keep the drama at a minimum? We cannot stress this enough. If what youíre saying about your ex isnít true and is proven to not be true, this will only make you look like the bad parent in court.
11. Hold off on living with your new spouse. The judge may not agree with your decision to move in with a new boyfriend or girlfriend during a custody battle. This is placing a stranger into the lives of your children and makes you seem like youíre more interested in what makes you happy rather than what is best for the kids.
12. Be the best version of yourself you can be to all involved in the case. Be open, honest, respectful, and professional to all those involved in the case, from the attorney to the mediator, to the child evaluator and so on. These individuals ultimately determine when and how often you will see your kids.
13. Stay involved in your childrenís lives. Continue to go to their sports games or school plays/events. Continue to communicate with their teachers and take them to doctor appointments. Remain an active part of their lives as much as possible. No one needs the best version of you quite like your children do.
14. Keep a record of everything. If you have allegations, youíre going to have to prove them in court. If you receive negative texts, voicemails, or emails from the other parent, hold onto them to prove your case. If you and the ex have made arrangements prior to the case, write down when and why you switch parenting time, as well as who has the kids on each holiday. Keep track of how much time you spend with the kids and how much you spend on them.
15. Even if you lose the case, donít give up on your children. Cherish each moment you have with them; they wonít be children forever, and you want them to look back on this time and smile, instead of in sadness or anger. Winning the case isnít the biggest goal Ė itís being the best parent possible and having the greatest relationship you can have with your children.
While anyone would agree that a court case of any kind can be unsettling to the nerves, nothing can cause feelings of uneasiness quite like cases involving children. Whether itís a custody battle or a case to determine child support, you will want to come across as a good parent. Trying to present the most honest version of yourself to a judge who knows little to nothing about you can be scary, as they determine how much your child support will be. Whether youíre confident walking into the courtroom or nervous, here are some things to avoid when it comes to child support cases.
1. Donít ignore your mail.
Sure, itís easy to throw junk mail into the trash without ever opening it. But youíll want to pay close attention to what comes from your lawyer, your exís lawyer, and the court system. Read it once, put it down for 30 minutes or so, then pick it back up and go over it again to make sure you fully comprehend what has been sent to you. If youíre asked to take action, do so within the allotted time period. Donít delay any replies. Contact your lawyer and follow through.
2. Donít distort the information to make you look like the ďgood guy.Ē
Always be completely honest, as lies will only backfire. Document any ďunder the tableĒ income you receive and donít ďover-reportĒ your financial needs to gain control over the amount of child support that is to be awarded to you.
3. Donít show up late or decide not to attend.
Arrive early, as this will help increase your chances of leaving a good first impression on the judge. Itís common for cases to take longer than expected; so if yours hasnít started yet, use what time you have beforehand to collect yourself and calm your nerves.
4. Donít divert from the topic being discussed.
The judge is here to determine how much child support you will receive/have to pay. They cannot change the custody order or visitation arrangement during this time.
5. Donít have unrealistic expectations.
Child support is ultimately determined by the information supplied to the court system, info that comes from you, your ex, and your stateís child support guidelines. If you feel as though your ex is falsifying their income, speak up. If the court suspects voluntary impoverishment, the judge will determine an amount based on what they believe the parent should be able to earn (this is based on past employment, education level, etc.). In reality, know that if your ex-has little to no income, chances are their amount will be minimal.
|Question you may be asked||Court room etiquette|
While battling for custody of your child or children, a judge will ask a series of questions in order to determine which arrangement is best for the child/children. Below are some questions you may be asked during your hearing.
1. ďWhat is the status of your current financial state?Ē
A judge needs to know each parentís financial status/resources to ensure that the parent is able to properly take care of the child/children. This will also determine if child support will be needed. Have documents with you stating your income. Debt and if you have other children with a previous spouse will be considered when the judge is making his or her decision.
2. ďWhich type of custody arrangement do you wish to have and why?Ē
Courts typically prefer joint custody arrangements, as this is usually best for the child to see both parents equally. However, if you wish to have sole custody, you will need to have evidence with you that states why the other parent shouldnít be allowed custody of your child.
3. ďCan you describe your communication with the other parent?Ē
As mentioned previously, courts like ruling joint custody. But in order to come to this decision, the judge will need to know how you communicate with one another. If youíre to share custody, you will both need to communicate on a regular basis without fighting, drama, etc. The goal is to work together in order to provide whatís best for your child.
4. ďIs there an existing formal or informal arrangement between you two?Ē
If you and the other parent have a current arrangement, let the judge know about it, including if it is or isnít working out. If itís not working out, explain why. If itís working, the judge may allow it to continue as is, as long as there are no issues present.
If youíre currently in the middle of a custody battle, know that exhibiting the proper courtroom behavior should be high on your list of priorities. How you behave towards the judge, the attorneys, and your adversary could affect the outcome of your case. Here are some tips to remember the next time you find yourself in the courtroom.
1. Abide by the dress code. Wear either a dark suit, a long-sleeved shirt with slacks, or a modest dress with closed toe shoes. You want to look nice and presentable to show the judge that youíre taking this seriously.
2. Refrain from emotional outbursts. This can be challenging, particularly if what is being said about you from the other party happens to be false or exaggerated. However, it is best to keep quiet as an emotional outburst may present a bad impression to the judge.
3. Consult with your attorney if you have any questions. If you have a question, speak with your attorney first. The attorney is the only person, other than the judge, who is allowed to speak at all times during a hearing. They will be able to ask the question for you or ask for clarification, should you need it.
4. Be prepared to answer questions. When asked questions during the hearing, answer them in a direct manner without incorporating any of your opinions or additional statements. While preparing your testimony, ask your attorney for help. They can give you an idea as to what will be asked.
|Reasons custody wouldn't be granted|
1. Child Abuse.
This is one of the most common reasons why a parent loses custody of a child. Abuse is often evident through scars, bruises, cuts, and marks. It can be the result of the parentís anger, his or her issues with addiction, or the presence of sexual behavior towards the child.
2. Spousal abuse.
If a parent has committed domestic violence against his or her spouse, this can cause them to lose custody of their child, as the environment is no longer safe for the child to live in.
3. Drug and/or alcohol abuse.
This includes the abuse of prescribed substances as well.
4. The violation of a custody order.
Scheduling conflicts can occur when two parents are sharing custody of their child or children. It is possible, however, for a parent to violate the terms laid out in the custody order. If one parent makes a decision about the childís extracurricular activities without consulting the other parent, thus cutting into their time with the child, the custody order can be modified to the extent of causing the parent to lose custody.
5. Alienation and false claims.
While it is sad to say, there are some parents who try to alienate their children from the other parent, often making up lies and tricking them into believing they have been abused or neglected by the other parent in order to gain full custody. If a parent makes false claims against the other, and those claims are proven to be false, they are at risk of losing custody.