If you’re facing a divorce, few things matter more than custody of your children. It’s probably the most significant factor in the entire situation. The question is, how can you increase your chances of getting custody?
How is Custody Determined?
Ideally, the courts prefer for parents to reach their own custody agreements. And if the judge deems it appropriate, then it typically gets adopted into a court order. However, this is an ideal situation. When a divorce is heated and parents can’t agree on custody, the court must step in and make certain decisions in the best interests of the children involved.
A judge typically begins by evaluating factors like:
- The child’s age and sex
- Each parent’s mental and physical health
- Each parent’s social life and lifestyle factors
- Emotional bonds between parents and children
- Each parent’s ability to provide adequate shelter, food, clothing, and healthcare
- The child’s existing living pattern (school,community, social life, etc.)
- The impact on the child’s status quo
- The child’s preference (if deemed old enough and mature enough)
Typically, these factors will indicate which parent is best suited for primary custody. However, it’s possible that all of these factors are equal. In this case, the courts typically focus on which parent is most likely to provide the most stable environment moving forward. Safety obviously comes first, but continuity is definitely a factor.
How to Improve Your Chances
There is no aspect of a divorce more important than custody of children. Finances are obviously a huge concern, but they pale in comparison to having time with your children. And from a child’s perspective, custody will often influence their childhood and future potential. This is something the courts want to get right, but sometimes you have to step in and plead your case in order to obtain the outcome that’s best for you and your kids.
This is not a time to play nice or try to appease everyone – custody over your children is in question. You need to develop a concrete plan of action that’s going to allow you to obtain the best possible outcome for both your children and yourself.
Here are several ways to improve your chances of getting custody:
1. Stay Involved
One of the most important things you can do is continue to stay involved in every area of your child’s life. This includes school, healthcare, extra-curricular activities, and even their social life. According to attorney Rowdy G. Williams, “No matter how sideways you are with your spouse, you have to stay in contact with them and maximize your parenting time. If you go MIA, the courts will question your sincerity.”
2. Adjust Your Work Schedule
Being able to show the judge that you have the capacity in your schedule is a huge step in the right direction.
It may be necessary to temporarily adjust your work schedule so that you can spend more time with your children and show the courts that you’re willing to be the best parent you can possibly be. It’s especially important that you’re available in the mornings and evenings to fulfill your duties as a parent. If you can get a job where you’re working from home, even better!
3. Provide a Stable Home Environment
Remember that the courts are looking for safety, stability, and continuity. Anything you can do to prove that you have a stable home environment will help your cause. Here are some suggestions:
- Keep your house clean and orderly
- Ensure your refrigerator and pantry is stocked with food
- Give your children their own room and privacy
- Avoid living with a roommate or significant other during this time
- Avoid jumping from house to house
Details matter! Focus all of your energy and effort on your children right now – nothing else matters.
4. Work With an Experienced Attorney
It’s worth noting that you don’t want to approach your divorce on your own. It’s imperative that you work with an experienced attorney who can help you make smart decisions that increase your odds of obtaining custody.
Putting it All Together
At the end of the day, you want to do what’s best for both you and your children. By gaining custody in a divorce, you ensure you’ll continue to be a mainstay in their lives.
Use the tips outlined above to get the favorable outcome that you’re all seeking.