Divorce is painful. Even the most amicable divorces involve ending a marriage, dividing property, and beginning a new, single life. When children are involved, divorce is much harder. However, parents have to consider the needs of their children and not just themselves. Sometimes the parents are able to come to a child custody agreement on their own. But if they are unable to agree on child custody, a family court judge must decide what to do. A child custody battle is a difficult process that causes stress for children and parents. Whenever possible, avoid a child custody battle for the sake of all parties. However, a good child custody lawyer can advise parents on how to steer clear of a bitter custody dispute. Here are five tips to avoid an ugly child custody battle.
- Do your best to negotiate with your former spouse. Clearly, your ex is not your favorite person right now. But he or she is still the parent of your shared children. Most courts recognize that children are better off maintaining a relationship with both parents. As such, joint custody is the standard custody arrangement these days. If you accept that you will most likely share custody with your ex-spouse, you can avoid a bitter dispute. Try to negotiate an agreement with your spouse before going to family court.
- Be an active parent. Demonstrate to your ex and your kids that the wellbeing of the children is your primary concern. Be present in their lives, even if they are not living with you at the moment. Attend their school events and other activities. Pick them up on time when they are with your ex. Bring them to your ex on time for visitation. Should you end up in court, proof that you are a responsible, loving parent goes a long way toward avoiding a custody battle.
- Don’t share the messy details with your children. Some parents are tempted to share the gory details of the divorce with their kids. Although, it can hard, do your best to speak neutrally about your ex around the kids. Trying to pit the kids against one parent puts them in an awkward position. As well as can backfire in a custody battle. That behavior could be used as evidence against you that you are trying to alienate affection from your children to your ex-spouse.
- Don’t use child custody to punish your ex-spouse. Sometimes, parents who are hurting want to hurt the other parent. But attempting to use child custody as a tool against your ex hurts your kids. Although, if you and your ex cannot agree on a custody arrangement and end up in a lengthy custody battle, that just prolongs the pain your children go through. In addition, it costs you time and money. Do your best to think about what’s easiest on your children.
- Follow any instructions from the court. If you do end up in court over child custody, do everything you can to avoid a bitter dispute. And if the court orders you to seek counseling or parenting classes, do it. Your willingness to follow the court’s directions demonstrates that you are committed to your children.
No one looks forward to a divorce, but sometimes it is the only path forward. If you are getting a divorce and have concerns about child custody, reach out to the law office of Paul H. Bowen. He has years of experience in family law and can help you avoid an ugly custody battle.