You’ve decided, for whatever reason, that joint custody isn’t enough. You want sole custody of your child.
As Philadelphia divorce lawyers we can tell you there are no guarantees. However, we can tell you what you can do to make your case as strong as possible. All this advice also applies if you are the parent who is being sued.
Focus on what makes you a good parent, not what makes your ex a bad parent.
Most judges believe children are better off when they have healthy relationships with both parents. Focusing on your ex’s flaws can make a judge wonder if you’ll comply with parenting time orders, or if you’ll do other things to damage your child’s relationship with the other parent.
You might have legitimate concerns, but you’ll make a stronger case if you can talk about what makes your environment a good environment for the child.
Some things to think about include:
- What’s your financial situation?
- What kind of home do you live in? Is it clean? Safe? Does it have enough space?
- Who else lives with you and who else will your child be exposed to in the event you win sole custody?
- How much effort have you made to remain in touch with your child during the divorce?
- Do you take your child to doctor’s appointments? Dentist appointments? How many out of the total number of appointments?
- Have you made it to your child’s performances and ball games?
- Do you help your child with homework at night?
The point is to show the positive contributions you make. The point is not to get into a boxing match about who is the better parent.
Unless there is good reason not to, come armed with a plan that will help your child have a relationship with your ex.
Obviously if there are abuse issues at work nobody is suggesting you put your child in danger. But if you simply have trouble getting along with your spouse you’re not going to help your custody case by making it harder for him or her to see your child.
Make sure your child is ready to go when it’s the other parent’s turn. The bag should be packed, the child should be at the designated location on time, and you should avoid saying or doing anything which might upset the child. Don’t badmouth the other parent or make statements which might create a fearful response.
Your plan for the other parent’s involvement in your child’s life should be fair, reasonable, and worked out with your lawyer.
Comply with every court order.
Custody suits don’t just happen during the initial divorce. They can happen long after the initial divorce decree.
Often, these disputes get triggered when one parent feels the other is not complying with reasonable and adequate parenting time as ordered by the court. Failure to comply with court orders can be a reason why judges award custody to the other party.
Court orders are just that: orders. You won’t do your case any favors if you fail to comply with them. After all, why should the court back you in any matter if you don’t respect the process enough to comply with all outcomes, even the ones you don’t like?
You can’t just paint a pretty picture for the judge. You need to back your claims with evidence. That’s where documentation comes in. Here are a few useful examples:
- Communication logs. It’s a good idea to log every phone call, visit, e-mail and messenger contact from the date of the divorce onward. If you call your child every day, then the courts will want to know about it. If the spouse who is suing for custody goes months at a time without speaking to his or her child, the courts will want to know about that, too.
- Parenting time logs. Log the date, the time, the agreed upon date and time, and what happened during the visit.
- All the child’s records, including school and medical records.
Consult with your lawyer to discover if other documents may be beneficial.
Keep communicating with your lawyer.
Don’t make assumptions, ask lots of questions, and make sure you follow your family lawyer’s directions. We’re here to help you, and to help you navigate the pitfalls of your custody case.
Got questions? Have concerns? Contact our offices today for your free consultation. Every custody case is different. Let us help you put your best foot forward.