How to Keep Your Kids During a Divorce
One of the most emotional parts of a divorce involves the custody of your children. While there was a time when the law favored mothers in a custody battle, the tendency for the courts today is to issue some form of joint custody.
The courts have held that it is typically in the best interest of the child to be raised by two parents, and it remains difficult to obtain sole custody of a child. What can you do to either obtain sole custody or keep your children with you as often as possible?
The Best Interest of the Child
At the end of the day, the court will attempt to determine the best interest of the child. Your behavior, as well as your former spouse’s behavior will be the primary factor in this decision. The court will also look at:
- both parents’ physical and mental health
- the ability to pay for their basic economic needs (clothes, school, medical care, etc.); and
- the lifestyle of each parent.
The court will decide both the physical and legal custody of the child. Usually, the courts favor some sort of joint custody arrangement for the best interest of the child.
Ways to Ensure You Keep Your Child
While the court does favor joint custody between parents, the following are some ways you can attempt to ensure that you keep custody of your child.
- Your ability to provide for a child physically, emotionally, and financially
- Your positive history of emotional, physical, and financial health
- Your minimal destructive habits including drinking or smoking
- Behave appropriately on social media
- A strong and positive emotional bond between you and your child
- A willingness to support the other parent’s rights with the child
- An attempt to ensure that there will be minimal change and disruption to the child’s life (i.e., moving, changing schools, etc.)
- A child’s significant and well-rounded quality of life with you
- The absence of any malicious behavior towards your ex-spouse
While this list is not exhaustive, it is representative of a healthy parent and child relationship. These characteristics exemplify a healthy, solid, and stable environment for a child to thrive in. Courts will want to allow a child to remain in beneficial surroundings.
Conversely, if you can prove that your ex-spouse is demonstrating any behavior contrary to the examples posted above, you may have the opportunity to file and obtain sole physical and legal custody.
Specifically, if your child is in danger in any way with the other parent, you should notify the police and other authorities immediately. After notifying the police and ensuring that your child is safe, you can attempt to revisit the issue of custody with the court.
Actions That Can Hurt Your Custody Case
Other than acting contrary to the suggestions listed above, there are some other behaviors that could possibly prevent you from gaining full custody or joint custody with your child.
- If you leave your marital home and child, and you do not maintain regular visits and contact with your children, this will be harmful to your child and be viewed negatively by the court.
- Stopping your child’s parents from having contact with them may be viewed as parental alienation and may cause you to lose primary custody of your child.
- If you leave your marital home with your children, make sure to contact an experienced attorney or visit with the court as soon as possible so it does not appear that you are attempting to kidnap or remove the children from the other parent.
Other factors can also hurt your custody case, such as behaviors that show the judge you are not a fit parent including instances of neglect, alcohol or drug addiction, and physical, emotional, or verbal abuse.
Work With an Experienced Child Custody Attorney
Dealing with a custody dispute can be one of the most difficult times in a parent’s life. Divorces involving custody of children are particularly stressful and emotional. If you need help seeking sole or joint custody of your children, contact a knowledgeable and experienced child custody lawyer. You may also wish to have an experienced advocate by your side to secure visitation with your child.
A skilled and knowledgeable child custody lawyer will be able to help achieve the best outcome for your child. It is very important to be honest and upfront with your attorney about any negative factors in your case. If your child’s other parent may have information about you that could hurt your case, let your attorney know about this right away.