Ideally, parents can come to an agreement on custody matters on their own. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Some parents may disagree on what arrangements are best for the child. Resentments may make cooperation and communication a struggle. Same-sex and/or unmarried couples also find it hard to understand the legal custody rights available to them.
If you and your child’s other parent can’t agree on custody arrangements and would like to take matters to court, there are some things you’ll need to do to prepare.
Document and Limit Communication with the Other Parent
Remember that your communication or lack of communication with your ex can become an issue in court. Your best bet is to limit your communication to that which is necessary, avoid engaging in arguments, and to communicate in ways that can be documented.
Email may be the best option with copies sent to your attorney. There are also apps that you can use that will document when emails are received, opened, and read. This can limit the other parent’s ability to claim that they did not receive certain communication or that you are withholding information about your child.
Whatever you do, don’t threaten, argue, or allow yourself to be baited into heated exchanges. Don’t make accusations. Don’t mention the other parent’s romantic partners. Limit your conversation to your shared child only.
Maintain as Much Contact with Your Child as Possible
If your ability to see your child is currently limited, it’s easy to get frustrated. However, even if you feel as if you aren’t getting enough parental time, it’s very important that you take all of the time that you get. Make every effort to ensure that you are available for all scheduled visitation and phone calls.
Even if the other parent refuses you access, your efforts and consistency will be noted by the court. As always, document all contact and visitation. If you have primary custody, you should also document when the other parent misses their scheduled time.
Give the Court Your Full Cooperation
Keep in mind that the judge’s job is to decide what is in the best interests of your child. To do that, they must gather the information they need about each parent’s fitness, the wishes of the child, and other factors. A judge may also need to make temporary custody decisions before they make a final decision. As a parent you may face one or more of the following:
- Placement of your child into the primary custody of the other parent.
- A court order to attend parenting classes or counseling.
- Limited or supervised visitation.
- Temporary changes to the current visitation schedule.
These things may feel like a violation, but keep in mind that the other parent may also face similar requirements or actions depending on the specifics of your case. Your best bet is to cooperate and allow your attorney to fight on your behalf.
The idea that you might lose significant time with your child or even some of your parental rights is deeply upsetting. However, it’s imperative to remain calm. Your first step should be contacting a Bright child custody attorney. They will act in your best interests and help you to get the best possible outcome.