Whether you are getting divorced, legally separating or ending your relationship with your partner, if there are children involved, you are probably worried about your rights as a parent. This is especially true if you feel there is a chance your co-parent will attempt to challenge your rights during this time. Take some steps right now to help ensure your rights to your child are preserved as your family law case moves forward.
Speak to an Attorney
You need to cover all your bases for a solid case in court, so you can lay the foundation for that by speaking to an attorney before your case even begins. An attorney will know the custody laws and how they may apply in your situation, and they will also be able to explain if your rights are being violated. They will also advise you throughout the process.
Talk to Your Co-Parent if You Can
Even with a strained relationship, you and your co-parent must figure out how to work together as parents. Set a time and place to sit down and talk about how things will change going forward. Try to reach an agreement on a temporary visitation schedule so the child sees each parent regularly and everything runs as smoothly as possible.
Put Your Child First
There is a lot to worry about in a divorce or legal separation. Unfortunately, this makes it easy for extremely important things, such as your role as a parent, to get lost in the noise. Being involved in your child’s life is crucial as they will need you and your co-parent’s support to handle the situation. Your continued involvement will also show the court later that you are committed to being a parent.
Make sure you are present at your child’s school and extracurricular events. Take them to doctor’s appointments, school and their other obligations. Spend quality time with your child and follow the household routines as usual the best that you can.
Document Any Attempts at Parental Rights Interference
If you are denied access to your child by your co-parent, you want to keep any proof of that you may have, such as emails and texts. It’s good to keep a journal or notebook of your attempts to parent and co-parent for future use, if needed. If you don’t, your co-parent can claim in court that you simply don’t want to be involved. In addition, if your co-parent is truly trying to block access to your child, that can work against them in court.
Determine Your Ideal Parenting Schedule
Whether you have to handle custody in court or you reach a settlement with your other parent, you will need a parenting plan. This plan will detail whom the child will be with and when, including during holidays and vacation times. This plan may also include how the child will get to and from each parent’s house and how you and your co-parent will communicate decisions related to parenting.
Try to draft what you believe is the ideal parenting plan for your child. This should allow for ample time with each parent without being extremely disruptive to your child’s current routines. While you may be tempted to leave your co-parent largely out of the plan, the court will want to see that you are willing to let your co-parent be an active part of the child’s life. Trying to keep your co-parent from being with your child for any reason other than their safety is likely to backfire on you.
Discuss any concerns you may have about custody matters, including the parenting plan, with an experienced family law attorney. They will explain your options and help you make more informed decisions.