Divorce and separations can be incredibly difficult for children, but the extent to which it affects their happiness and quality of life is in large part dependent on the behavior of parents. There are things you can do to improve your chances of obtaining the child custody outcome that’s in your children’s best interest while promoting a healthy relationship with your ex to minimize the anxiety and stress experienced by your kids during this emotional process.
Keeping Your Emotions in Check
No one likes being threatened with the loss of their children, and threatening your soon-to-be ex in such a fashion is going to set an unproductive tone, not just for your divorce but for your children’s lives as well. Parents who are perceived as amicable and cool headed will generally fair far better in court, mediation and arbitration than a parent who can’t control their emotions enough to be pragmatic or even act like a rational adult.
If you are attempting to get primary or sole custody it’s imperative to establish a reputation as the responsible one in the relationship who is capable of doing what’s in the best interest of the children, even if that means allowing visitation or sharing custody.
Know Your Kids
Establishing yourself as the responsible parent means being informed about every aspect of your children’s lives.
Know your children’s teachers and stay apprised of their performance at school
If you have time consider volunteering for school activities to show how involved you are
Stay on top of your children’s health – know about any medications, allergies and who their doctors are
Know your children’s friends and their families, and do your best to keep them away from bad influences
Be involved with their hobbies, whether that’s a sport or something else
You will be asked by numerous people throughout the process about your children, and it’s important you be able to speak to who they are as people – their personality, struggles and interests. Knowing these things will establish you as a parent who truly cares about their children.
Don’t Be the Parent Who Constantly Bad Mouths the Other Parent
There are a few important points here. First, this isn’t always the easiest thing to do. If you’re getting a divorce there are likely plenty of not-so-complimentary things you’d love to say about your spouse to your children, but those things are best left unsaid.
It’s not just bad for your children and their perception of a person who they love and look up to, it could also negatively impact your child custody chances in the future. The courts frown upon one parent trying to turn children against the other parent, whether that’s through bribes, insults or misleading insinuations.
This type of behavior can also lead to retaliation, devolving into he-said she-said arguments with your children acting as conduits for the vitriol and anger. That is not at all conducive to their mental health, nor will it improve your relationship with the person whom you’ll need to co-parent with until your children reach adulthood.
If you know your spouse is trash talking you to your children, keep a record of it. If you pick up your children from school one day and they say “Mommy/Daddy said you did…,” log it. If the other parent is refusing to let you speak to your children on the phone, won’t return your messages or is otherwise unfairly denying you reasonable access to your children, you should bring it to the attention of your attorney and the courts.
Interesting Note on Terminology
Although these disputes are still commonly known among the public under the umbrella term “child custody,” the courts have changed their approach to terminology and instead use more nuanced language, such as “legal decision making,” “parenting time” and “primary custodial parent.” For example, the courts will no longer say you have “primary or sole custody,” but rather that you are the “primary custodial parent.” So if you and your ex are “sharing custody,” you’re technically sharing “custodial duties,” “parenting time” and likely “legal decision making” as well.
Child Custody Is Difficult, But We Can Help
Our family law attorneys at Blumberg & Associates have extensive experience with child custody disputes and divorce proceedings. We have helped many people going through what you’re going through, and we’ve seen firsthand the heartache and loss of control parents feel in these situations. Our attorneys are compassionate and empathetic, and will provide both the support and knowledgeable guidance you’ll want during this difficult time.
Contact us today to request a free child custody consultation.