Child custody cases can get combative. Typically, both parents want equal time with their children. But all too often a parent will try to argue that the other parent isn’t fit to raise a child. Here are some things you can do to protect yourself when entering a litigious custody case. It’s important to remember that most courts will want to reward joint custody. If that happens in your case, it will be up to you to create a livable co-parenting relationship.
When Child Custody Becomes War
When resolving custody cases, if a parent is able to demonstrate how the other parent and the child or children interact, it can help prove their side of the case. Because of this, it’s advised to record everything, including:
- If the other parent does not follow or stick to a pre-arranged visitation schedule
- Any changes in the children’s behavior following the time they spend with the other parent
- If the other parent threatens legal action against you
- Any concern you have regarding the child or children’s physical well-being during the time they spend with the other parent
Documenting all these things is very important to building your case. But it should also be fairly documented, including any positive interactions. Being able to remove any emotions you have about the other parent will help you stay focused on creating an unbiased record. State the facts and try to keep the emotions out of it.
What to Record and How-to
Using a spiral notebook, Excel document, or any other form that will help you keep track of every interaction, note the following:
- Times of calls or visits
- Topics discussed (either between you or the other spouse or between the other spouse and your child or children). This does not have to mean an invasion of privacy, but if you’re able to get a gauge of what was discussed between your child or children and the other parent it only builds a stronger case
- Duration of phone call or visit
- Was the interaction spontaneous or part of a pre-arranged visitation schedule?
- How the child or children felt prior to the visit or call, as well as after
- Be consistent in your record keeping. If that means setting a daily time to record anything that has happened, then do so. Waiting days or weeks to record an interaction will make it difficult for you to remember specifics.
- Be neutral! Try to not let emotion get ahold of you.
- Research your state laws regarding auto recordings and telephone calls. In some jurisdictions, recording conversations is illegal.
- Work with a lawyer.
Should Your Child Testify?
get litigious you want to pull out all the stops to make your case. You might be tempted to have your child testify. This can be especially tempting if your child has expressed that they would want to be with you full time. But before you move forward with allowing your child to testify, there are some things you should consider.
Considerations Before Hearing
Here are some things you’ll want to consider: Is it necessary for your child to testify? And what are your reasons behind why you want your child to provide testimony? Will your child be able to provide the judge with information regarding his or his home life and how the current custody arrangement is impacting them? Is your child mature enough to express his or his desires? If your reasoning behind having your child provide testimony is field by revenge or wanting to embarrass your spouse, then you should refrain. But if your reasoning is fueled by fear of the child’s life being endangered by living with the othis parent, then you should let them testify. What are the effects this will have? Divorce and being shuffled between two homes is already a tough experience for a child to go through. Will testifying make your child feel as if they have to choose sides? How will this make them feel? How will this impact your relationship with them? How would you feel if they were testifying against you? Co-parenting is a large part of this “new world” your child is in, and you should encourage a healthy co-parenting environment. If your child has expressed in interest in testifying, try to get behind the real reasons. Are they just afraid they will lose time with you? Do they just need some reassurance? What are the testimony laws in your state? A divorce and family law attorney will be able to help you understand the child testimony laws in your state. In California, a child 14 years or older is allowed to testify during divorce proceedings, unless the testimony is not in the “best interest” of that child. A court will also consider the testimony of a child under the age of 14 if that child is deemed mature enough to be able to provide a competent testimony.
The decision of allowing your son or daughter to provide testimony should not be taken lightly. You should with the pros and cons of the situation, and really listen to your child’s thoughts on the matter. Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions of yourself and of your child to get to the bottom of what they impact this testimony will have. Keeping your child’s best interest in mind will help steer your decision to the one that is correct for you and your child.
to both parents, due to the fact that typically, it’s been shown that kids respond best to both parents being in their lives. Joint custody is when two parents share decision-making responsibilities and/or physical control of the child or children they share. Joint custody is able to be awarded to parents that are divorced, separated, no longer living together, or even if they never lived together.
Forms of Joint Custody
There are different forms of joint custody that can be awarded, including:
- joint legal custody. This means both parents are able to make decisions, including religion, education, medical, and any legal matters.
- joint physical custody. This means a child spends equal time with each parent.
- joint legal and physical custody.
While it’s a common practice for parents to share physical custody and legal custody, it’s not always the case that parents that share legal custody also share physical custody.
Joint Custody – Advantages and Disadvantages
There are a number of advantages and disadvantages to joint custody. Children are able to have contact with both parents. Additionally, parents are able to share some of the hardships that come with co-parenting. But children also often have to be shuttled between parents in joint physical custody situations. This can be difficult, especially if parents are noncooperative. Because of some of the disadvantages, it’s important that parents work to create a harmonious co-parenting situation. Maintaining detailed agreements surround holidays, expenses for clothing and medical care, as well as creating a child’s own space in each household is crucial to creating a successful joint custody arrangement.
Creating a Co-Parenting Relationship
If you have gone to court for custody, and the court decided to award joint custody, chances are there will be a number of issues you and your ex-spouse will need to work through. If you share children with your ex-spouse, then you’ll have to learn how to be a co-parent. And this isn’t something you’re going to have to learn how to do by yourself. You’re going to have to learn how to do it with your ex! This means you’ll have to learn how to put the best interests of your children above your own, as well as learning how to form an amicable relationship, perhaps for the first time, with your ex. While you don’t necessarily have to become best friends, you’ll have to forge a happy medium and find how you can make the co-parenting relationship work. If you’re newly divorced, right now this may seem impossible, especially after what you just went through with your relationship, but you have to remember that the fault in your marriage wasn’t the fault of the child or children. They also must not be placed in the middle of your emotional crossfire left over from your marriage. The key is to learn to take the high road, which means you may have to make true sacrifices for the well-being of your children.
Step One is to Realize Only You Are Able to Control You
In order to create a co-parenting relationship, you must first realize the only person you can control is yourself. You don’t have any power over your ex, so don’t even both trying. If you can accept this fact and are able to control your own emotions and actions, you’ll have an easier time developing a co-parenting relationship. Hopefully, your example will carry over to your ex-spouse.
What Your Child Needs the Most
There are certain things that any child will need during this time: structure, acceptance, assurance of their safety, freedom from blame or guilt that they were responsible for their parent’s divorce, two stable parents, and the freedom and permission to just be a kid and have fun.
Working with a Divorce Attorney
A divorce attorney will work with you to help you decide how you want to tackle all elements of your marriage and divorce, while also providing guidance and support. They will be able to lead you through the process while keeping you from procrastination and caving into pressure. They’ll also be able to help ensure you meet all the required timelines while ensuring that you get a fair case and trial should you need to go to court. Lastly, they’ll be able to help you find the freedom and new life you are seeking - one that is entirely on your terms. For advice on divorce, you need the expert law firm of 619 DIVORCE. Schedule a consultation today. (619) DIVORCE 3555 4th Ave San Diego, CA 92103 Phone: (619) 503-3050