“Until death do us part,” isn’t quite the literal vow these days that it used to be. Sadly, many marriages inevitably end in divorce, putting a chink in the couple’s original plans of growing old with a particular person. No one enjoys the divorce process; after all, it’s an extremely personal experience that’s fraught with all kinds of conflicting emotions. However, for those with children, divorces can often easily center on custody struggles.
Since no one really expects to deal with a divorce or custody issue when they first get married, many people who find themselves in a custody dispute typically have no idea what to expect or how to handle the situation. Taking that into consideration, let’s go over a few things that you can expect, and the actions you can take to help ensure the outcome you’re looking for in your custody dispute.
Who Are You as a Parent?
In child custody disputes, it’s extremely easy to get caught up in the overall emotions of the divorce. Dispute cases often turn into outlets for couples to vent their negative emotions toward one another, rather than focusing on what’s best for the child or children.
It’s extremely important to remember that, while a divorce may be unpleasant and difficult for the spouses, children are particularly vulnerable during this time. They may not understand all of the particulars of why their parents are divorcing, and it’s extremely easy for children to feel as if they’re to blame for the situation. Therefore, putting them at the center of a nasty battle between the parents inevitably means that they’re the central focus for all of the negativity that unfolds.
This is the perfect moment for you to step back and assess who you are as a parent and what you can do to improve. Parenting isn’t something that comes with a definitive rulebook, and you’re going to constantly learn and grow as a parent for the rest of your life. For children, a divorce means that the family unit they’re accustomed to is going to change, which means it’s important to focus on what you need to do in order to adapt as a parent in this new situation.
Understanding your children’s emotions and thought processes at this time is very important, especially since this will help guide you in better understanding how custody needs to be set up.
Furthermore, if you’re going to prove to a court that you’re the best option for main or sole custody of the children, then you’re going to have to first prove it to the child and to yourself. How you behave around your children at this point is going to be highly scrutinized and, while this can bring added pressure to an already stressful situation, again, it’s important to look on this as a learning opportunity.
Speaking to an Attorney:
One of the most important things to take care of in a child custody case is finding the right attorney for the job. It’s best to pick a law group that specializes in family law; this way, you know you’re going to be dealing with someone who has a great deal of experience in this field. After all, you want someone who can anticipate anything that might come your way, and who will fully understand how handle your particular situation in a custody dispute.
Your lawyer is going to be your biggest ally in this situation and, as such, you need to be as open and honest with them as you possibly can. They need to be able to know how to present you to a judge and how to deflect any negativity that your spouse or other family members might try to send your way.
Besides picking a lawyer that comes with a great deal of legal expertise and dependability, you also want to make sure that you’re working with someone with whom you’re comfortable. When first talking with an attorney, assess how responsive they are to your needs and concerns. Also be sure that you’re working with someone who’s capable of giving you all of the information you need in order to know not only what to expect in your situation, but also the sort of documentation and other technical components you’ll need to have available in order to proceed with a custody hearing.
Maintain Personal Control:
Divorces and custody battles can be highly emotionally charged situations, so getting caught up in anger and bitterness can be rather easy. Remember, though, that this is only going to hurt you even more. For starters, if you’re going to be diving into a custody battle, then you’ve got to be able to stay focused. Letting emotions get the better of you, and then descending into various altercations with your spouse, especially in front of the children, is going to not only distract you from the goals in front of you, but also possibly turn the tables against you.
Keep in mind that what you say and do around your children during this process may have a profound effect, not only on the custody battle itself, but also on your children’s emotional development.
Badmouthing the other spouse to your child can have profound emotional repercussions for your child. Your children are made up of both you and your spouse, so when you degrade your spouse in front of them, it’s as if you’re attacking and degrading a part of them as well. Such talk, along with the situations you might put them in, will also find its way back to the judge in charge of your case.
If it seems that the words you speak and the actions you take may in some way cause harm to the children, and that this behavior is to be expected in the future, then the judge is likely to decide that you’re not a fit caretaker for your children.
More than anything, you need to make sure that you’re prepared for what’s ahead. The typical child custody case won’t take that long, so make sure that you’ve gathered all of the material you’re going to need in order to present your case. It can often feel rather daunting, but you can overcome a lot of this feeling as long as you getting the ball rolling quickly and stay on it.
With a divorce, issues surrounding the custody of your children are going to be one of the first things you deal with, so don’t delay. It’s better to go ahead and get as much of a head start as possible, especially in the event that you encounter some bumps in the road.
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