Child custody is the most contentious issue in any divorce. Everyone has a different opinion about what’s in the best interest of children when their parents separate. For example, it’s long been a matter of debate whether mothers should automatically get sole custody – an outdated idea – or whether, as is the prevailing belief now, fathers have an equal right to custody of their children. Today, most experts believe joint custody is ideal for children, but what that looks like in practice can vary, and circumstances can dictate other arrangements altogether.
Observe Pre-Divorce Issues
When determining what kind of case you want to make regarding child custody, you should first examine what was going on in your marriage before your divorce. Who does the bulk of the actual parenting? Do work hours prevent one of you from being present for significant events in your children’s lives? With older children, you might also look at their relationships with each parent. Older children can make a case for who they want to live with and receive some degree of hearing from the courts.
Keep Your Cool
As parents, divorce is not a clean break. Instead, it’s the start of a different kind of relationship – co-parenting. That means, barring real concerns like abuse or addiction, you’ll still be working together for years to come. If you’re choosing some form of joint custody, start in the spirit of cooperation by negotiating an arrangement without going to court. It’s also essential to demonstrate flexibility and a willingness to compromise with each other to make parenting more accessible, not harder.
When Joint Custody Isn’t Right
While joint custody is considered optimal when viewed in the most objective light, it isn’t right for every family, and it’s essential to be clear about whether that applies to your family – and doing so may lead to conflict. Substantive issues that could be a barrier to joint custody are a common reason why divorcing couples end up in front of a judge. So, what are some hot button issues?
As divorce lawyer Rowdy Williams explains, “Courts need to act in the best interests of the child or children, and that means taking a variety of issues into account. Including any medical concerns, past abuse or criminal history, and work responsibilities that might prevent a parent from being present.
In other words, they consider not just imminent danger, but the overall quality of life, and that can be a hard call.” Suppose you and your partner are at odds about your hoped-for custody arrangements for some reason. You’ll need to make a solid case to the judge about why your ex shouldn’t have custody rights. They will not fracture children’s relationships with their parents without good cause.
Whatever happened to lead to your divorce, it’s your job to keep marital matters on the sidelines and put your children first – or the courts will, and their decision may not be favorable to you. Document any significant concerns, play by the rules and take things back to the judge if serious problems arise. When you’re in front of your kids, though, keep it friendly. Don’t speak badly about your ex or try to alienate them, drive divisions through gifts, or otherwise seek to damage that relationship. It may be a tricky line to walk some days, but it’s for the best in the long run.
How to Convince a Court to Take Child Custody?
As a child custody specialist, I see my clients frequently address custody concerns during divorce proceedings. It is easy to see why – when a couple is struggling with issues regarding their children, the last thing they want to do is create additional hardships for themselves and their children. This is especially true when one spouse is abusive, and the other has a history of domestic violence.
In all cases, the goal is to minimize the disruption to the children of the divorcing couple. That means addressing the abuse issue early in the process, so the court does not have to be confronted with it later on. Unfortunately, in many situations I see, the divorcing parents take this issue for granted and do not seek appropriate child custody assistance.
Address child custody concerns
Often, this is a mistake. Some excellent resources are available that can help divorce parents learn how to address child custody concerns during the divorce adequately. Child custody specialists know how to gather information about the custody issues and then provide information and recommendations about getting the best results in the shortest time possible. Here are some points to consider when you are dealing with divorce and custody issues:
The role of a child custody evaluator is to assist in determining what type of plan is in the best interest of the child or children involved. In most instances, the evaluator is well-versed in family law and in dealing with these types of issues. If you have a strong foundation for your estate plan in place before you get married, it makes sense to include an asset protection plan in your divorce decree.
In many jurisdictions, including California and Colorado, the mediator plays a vital role in determining which party is likely to be the best custodial parent. They will play an integral role in deciding which parent is more likely to provide a safe, nurturing environment for the child. This may result in the mediator recommending the divorcing parents about who they wish to retain.
On the other hand, if the mediator cannot agree with the divorcing parents, they will make their recommendations. The goal for both parents is always to create a loving environment for the child. Therefore, there is no need to attempt to “compete” with the mediator.
Mediation is designed to create a forum where divorcing parents can sit down and discuss their child custody concerns. The mediator keeps the parties calm during this process and allows them the opportunity to communicate their thoughts and feelings to each other. Both parties are free to express their opinions and to voice any concerns they have about the divorce. Although many people believe that collaborative law favors one party over the other, that is not true.
Most family law experts do not believe that the collaborative process favors one party over the other. One reason they tend to think this is because children tend to benefit from the process, and they also like the parties’ involvement in the process. Many of the benefits of the collaborative process are not immediately apparent. For example, it has been proven that the parties involved in the collaborative process are less likely to be angry at one another after the divorce. They tend to be much happier during the process and remain interested in the discussions.
There is a powerful possibility that your family law attorney will advise you to seek the help of a collaborative divorce mediator. If your family law concerns are complicated and you cannot work out your issues with your spouse. This would be extremely wise because mediation is by far the most affordable and effective way to deal with divorce. Mediation could get the parties talking to one another without attorneys, and it may allow both parties to communicate their concerns and fears with each other.
Family Mediation Program
If you would like to hire a mediator to help you with your divorce, you can contact the Family Mediation Program of Arizona for assistance. They can assist you with all of the details, including selecting a good mediator, setting up the meeting, and selecting the content of the sessions.
Once you have selected a mediator, you will give them all of your information, starting the mediation process. You will participate in the meetings and feel like you are on the same page as your spouse. On the other hand, if you prefer to handle the entire settlement process on your own, then you will want to find a family law attorney that you can trust and work with for the duration of your divorce. It is essential to know that family law mediators are trained in family law matters and help you with your legal issues.