Child custody battles are among the most contentious legal issues. For some parents, child custody disputes are among the most difficult and emotionally draining issues they will face during their lifetimes. As a parent involved in a child custody battle, it is important for you to know your legal rights and operate from a position of strength, not weakness.
During a custody battle, it can be easy to focus intensely on the evidence and the case itself without focusing on self-care. Taking time for yourself can help you maintain self-control and think clearly. Exercising, eating well, and connecting with your support networks will help you remain strong. When needed, seeking mental health care from a licensed therapist can help tremendously.
Stay Focused on Your Child
Keeping the child’s best interests in mind can help you navigate the child custody process. If tensions increase between you and your co-parent, consider how your actions and decisions may negatively impact your child. Try to be the better person and remain committed to your child’s well-being and your long-term relationship with your child.
Gain an Understanding of How the Court Decides Custody Matters
If a child’s parents disagree about custody arrangements, the court will need to decide on the custody matter. A judge will hear evidence from both sides and make a decision based on multiple factors. Ultimately, a judge must decide to protect the child’s best interest. Most courts require mediation with a neutral, third-party mediator. A judge may order an investigation by social services or another agency to asses the parents and decide whether factors in their lives pose a mental, physical, emotional, or moral danger to the child.
Be Open to Co-Parenting When It Is Safe
Texas judges agree that joint custody is best for the child. Judges believe that both parents should play an active role in raising the child or children. If you plan on aggressively pursuing joint physical and legal custody, succeeding will be challenging unless you can prove your ex is not safe for your children to spend time with. If you aren’t sure whether sole custody may be a viable option in your case, the best thing you can do is speak to an experienced attorney. While judges do order sole custody in some circumstances, it is rare.
Keep Relevant Documentation
Maintaining accurate and thorough records of all relevant events, expenses, and communications can assist your case greatly. It is wise to keep a calendar of visitations and custody exchanges. Make a note in the calendar if there are any disagreements or incidents with the other parent. It is difficult to remember specific dates and details in the future.
You should also document any disagreements or incidents with the other parent. Try to save emails, texts, and other communications and track all child-related expenses and financial contributions you have made. These documents may be valuable if your case proceeds to trial or if your ex has falsely accused you.
Do Not Make Disparaging Comments
As tempting as it can be when your soon-to-be ex-spouse is being unreasonable, try to avoid making disparaging comments about him or her. Arguing with your spouse can decrease the likelihood of you securing custody. When the custody battle is extremely volatile, even speaking with others about your former spouse can put you at a disadvantage.
The court overseeing your case may call family members and friends to testify at your child’s custody hearing. Your words may be used against you, especially if you have made disparaging comments in front of your children. You should avoid discussing your divorce publicly, especially on social media.
Be Careful About Romantic Partners
It is normal to want to begin dating after your divorce proceedings have been initiated. Sometimes, a new romantic partner may have contributed to your decision to separate from your spouse. Still, you will benefit from avoiding allowing your children to interact with new partners until your custody arrangements have been finalized.
Along with causing children confusion, your new partner’s presence could result in increased tension and cause additional hostility between you and your ex-spouse. Having a romantic partner is a choice you are free to make. However, some judges have been known to penalize parents who quickly move in with their new romantic partners while the divorce proceeding is ongoing.
Take Your Visitation Agreement Seriously
You must carefully adhere to your existing visitation agreement, even if you think it is unfair or overly burdensome. You may be tempted to keep your child from your soon-to-be-ex partner out of spite or because you feel they are irresponsible, but doing so can leave you at a severe disadvantage.
For example, suppose you are chronically late to pick up or drop off your children, or you miss visitation days entirely. In that case, a judge may hold this against you when determining the final child custody agreement. Similarly, do not take your child out of state, even if it is for a fun weekend vacation. You should always get permission from your ex in writing before taking your child out of state.
However, if you believe your spouse is an active threat to your child’s safety, you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible. You may be able to obtain a temporary restraining order to prevent your ex from being around your children.
Prepare for Court Appearances
In the courtroom, first impressions matter. Arrive on time, dress professionally, and be respectful to all court staff, including the judge. Ensure you familiarize yourself with your case’s details and be prepared to answer any questions the judge asks. You should practice your responses with your attorney beforehand.
Contact an Experienced Child Custody Attorney in Richmond, Texas
Attorney Vonda Covington is here to work with you to create an effective legal strategy as you move forward with your custody battle. Do not hesitate to contact Covington Law Firm, PLLC, to schedule a consultation and learn more about how she can fight for your rights.