One of the more stressful parts of navigating a divorce case is figuring out a fair custody agreement for children. You might feel like your children would be better off spending more time with you, but proving it can sometimes be challenging. If you simply want more time or if you want to be the primary custodial parent, here are some tips that can help you make sure you have the strongest custody case possible.
1. Pay what you have to, and give more if you can.
Many people feel that child support or alimony payments are unfair or too high, but you should not fight them when you are hoping for a better custody agreement. Instead, do whatever you can to support your child financially (even if you haven't been ordered to pay child support yet). This shows you have an active and personal interest in providing the material needs for your children, despite any bad feelings there might be between you and your former partner.
2. Move closer.
Moving closer is one way to definitely increase your time and your ability to be a custodial parent. Courts try to reduce the disruption in the life of a child, so they do what they can to help children stay in their same schools and keep attending other extra curricular activities like martial arts or community teams or organizations. When you stay in the same neighborhood, you children have the opportunity to share time between your two houses, even on weekdays, because school time will not be compromised. Even if you move to another part of town or a nearby city, you still won't see as much of your kids as your otherwise might be able to.
3. Stay involved.
It's also important to stay involved. You should know about your children's activities, schedules, school performance, and medical needs. In a marriage, it's common for one parent to be the "go-to" for doctor's appointments and teacher meetings. If this was not you, plan to do some catching up. Try to:
- be there for parent teacher conferences. Know your children's teachers' names and stay up-to-date on how each child might be performing in school.
- be on time when picking children up from school. You don't want a track record of being late.
- attend games and concerts. Make it a habit to be there for important events.
- be available for doctor's appointments and procedures. If you have a child with special needs or a medical condition, this is even more important.
- adjust your work schedule to allow for availability. You might have great financial resources to help provide for a child, but the court will also factor in how your schedule affects your ability to be present.
4. Keep your relationship strong.
The fun part of working through a custody case is that you can make a strong relationship with your child a priority. Take extra time to make sure you are close to each child. Spend time and money on family outings, one-on-one activities, and talks. You might talk on the phone daily, send letters in the mail, take children out for meals or for play time at the park. A strong relationship is worth preserving, and courts try to make sure that a child will have a full opportunity to enjoy closeness with both parents.
6. Stay employed.
Finally, it's important to make sure you have a job and can keep it. If you are not employed or have a hard time keeping a job, you may not be able to be a custodial parent simply because providing for basic necessities is a main concern in custody cases.
For more information, contact a divorce lawyer in your area.