In a custody case, many parents want to come out “on top,” so to speak. While the needs of the child are paramount in this situation, it is understandable that a parent wants to have the most time with their children and the most say over their upbringing. In addition, when a person gets primary custody (the child lives with them the majority of the time), they also receive child support. This financial benefit can be very important when one parent is facing a significant loss of income in the household due to the relationship with the other parent ending.
Stay with the Children
If the ending of your relationship is full of anger, you may be tempted to leave the family home right away. Do not leave your children, as the judge may consider this when deciding your custody case.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, contact law enforcement for help right away, and speak to your attorney about the next steps you should take. It is important that you and your children get to a safe place as soon as possible.
Make Sure You Have Proper Housing
You should have a home or apartment that allows each child to have a bed in a bedroom, and it should be near the children’s current school. If you end up living far away from where your child goes to school, the court will look at this in a negative light as your children would be forced to have a long commute from home to school if they lived with you.
Actively Care for Your Children
Help your children with their homework and be actively involved in their education and activities outside school, such as dance classes or soccer. The court wants to see a parent who is very involved in their children’s lives. While this probably sounds like what you do already, it can become easy to let certain things slide when you are having issues with your co-parent. However, you must make sure you continue to be a fully engaged presence in your child’s life, and you need to work with your co-parent as best as you can since the court will consider how well you can co-parent with your ex as well.
Be an Example
Your children will follow the example you set, and primary custody is usually not awarded to the “fun” parent. Your child doesn’t need you to be a friend; they need you to help them become healthy, balanced adults. For this, they will need to experience consequences for their actions and discipline.
Although this sounds simple, it can be difficult when parents are splitting up because the child may be more drawn to the “fun” parent during this time. However, this is only temporary, and it simply is not good for your child to get away with everything. In fact, this often sets children up for failures in their adult lives.
In addition to setting an example for your children’s behavior, you also need to set an example for the court. This means no excessive drinking or drug use. If you are found to be abusing alcohol or drugs, you may find yourself with very limited time with your children. Even if this is something you feel is temporary due to the stress of the relationship ending, if your ex brings it up in court, you can find yourself in serious trouble in your custody case.
Above all, it’s important to work with an experienced attorney during your custody case to make sure you are doing what’s in the best interest of your children. Your attorney will guide you and offer you vital advice during this process.