The role of a parent in a child’s life is vital at any stage of life. You’ve been there every day since day one, from the time they were born, when they took their first steps, and when they learn how to bike. But when separation happens in the family, your role as a parent will start to change and you may not be there to witness the next important events in their life.
So you want to file a divorce and you and your partner want custody. A custody trial is a difficult process not only for parents but also for children. You hire a family court lawyer to guide you throughout the legal process and deal with all the mental and emotional impacts of the situation. Your child may somehow know what is going on and may feel stressed and pressured to pick between their parents, or they may choose to act out.
Regardless of how you want the trial to be civil, filing child custody is difficult, especially for fathers. Courts have no discrimination against fathers, but very few of them get full child custody. While there are plenty of reasons for this, it’s natural to feel discouraged if the father wants full custody. Although this can be challenging, it’s still possible.
Whether you’re a father filing joint or full custody, it’s important to take extra steps to prepare for a child custody battle. A little preparation can help you make a better case and get the result you’re after.
No matter how you want to keep the trial less stressful, you have to accept that there will be tons of hurdles involved. You have to openly discuss with the court what makes you the better parent. This means you have to reveal every piece of evidence to get a better case. It might mean revealing your partner’s state of mental health, the family’s finances, and the worst family fights.
In turn, your partner will also do the same. They will reveal all your bad qualities and put those things in the worst possible light. Obviously, this can hurt your emotional and mental well-being, making it difficult to handle the case.
As much as possible, you have to be polite and civil despite having strong emotions. The last thing you want is to let your emotions overpower your judgment and lose your temper. Although full custody is what you really want, make sure to do a reality check first. Can you manage it on your own financially and practically?
Your lawyer and the court will ensure you get a clearer view of the arrangement you’re petitioning for. Think of all the responsibilities involved as a single parent. Consider the things you have to handle on a day-to-day basis and the strategies you’ll employ to manage them effectively.
Create a plan
The court will expect the parent to be prepared once it awards custody. Before this happens, go through all the possible questions asked by the judge to present the most appropriate responses.
For instance, the judge will ask about your plans regarding living arrangements, financial preparedness, the child’s education, and after-school activities. Make sure you have considered all these issues before answering the judge’s inquiry with full honesty and detail.
You may also seek the help of parents who also went through a child custody trial. Ask for their advice to get better insight and understand possible expectations. But keep in mind that every parent has a unique experience. Don’t let the emotional aspects of their experience influence the facts. Most of the time, hearing someone else’s negative experience can affect your rational judgment.
No matter what happens, stay involved in your child’s life. Aside from handling the child’s basic needs, the court will find evidence of a healthy parent-child relationship. Although you have developed a meaningful connection with the children, the court will also investigate the objective aspects of the relationship.
For example, does your child’s teacher know you? Are you aware of your child’s academic progress? Do you help your child with their homework or participate in your child’s religious, education, and social events? Do you know who their friends are?
Also, don’t forget to fulfill your obligations for child support. Make sure to have regular payments and maintain records such as receipts, checks, and other important documentation.
Remember, judges have no inclination to change existing arrangements for child custody if things don’t work well. If you will want to file custody and make the best case, you need to present compelling evidence to explain why this arrangement will serve the best interest of the children. But if the process is giving you a tough time, seek a therapist or psychologist to put you in a better emotional state.