Divorce and Child Custody: Getting Things Right

If you are preparing for your divorce proceedings, there are, no doubt, many things running through your mind.  You are worried about how your life will change, you are worried about how your kids’ lives will change, you are worried about finances, you are emotionally vulnerable, and you are likely starting an unfamiliar and stressful legal process. In the middle of these stresses you have to make decisions that will affect one of the most important things in your life: who has custody of your children.

Do not make child custody decisions lightly. Hire a professional and competent attorney to help guide you through your divorce, including your child custody arrangements. An experienced family law attorney in your area will be your best advocate in court. In the meantime, consider these tips about how to make sure that you finalize your divorce with the best child custody arrangement for your family.

  • Be Civil. Although emotions can be high during a divorce, especially when it comes to discussing child custody, it is best if you can remain calm and rational when discussing things with your spouse. If you can agree on a child custody arrangement, it will reduce stress for you and your children.
  • Be Realistic. If you have never been the primary caretaker for the children, a court is unlikely to award you sole custody. Know that things are going to change in your life, and that your job as a parent is to make sure the change is the easiest for your children to manage. Often, this involves spending at least some time with each parent.
  • Be Proactive. If you know that you want your children to live with you at least part of the time, make sure that your living arrangements are suitable. Live in their school district, consider how they will get to school, and make sure your car has the appropriate car seats and booster seats.
  • Make a Plan. Take a look at your life and make a plan. Do you want to live with your children every other week? Are you planning to stay near your children long term? Do you need an alternative custody arrangement so that they stay with you only in the summer? Are there any special family holidays that you want your children to spend with you and your extended family. Make a wishlist of everything you would like to see in a custody arrangement and take it to your lawyer. He or she will help you make a plan to get as many items on your list as possible given the facts of your case.

Remember, it can be hard to think carefully about child custody issues during the middle of a divorce, but it is arguably the most important issue to get right. Although child custody arrangements can be modified over time to meet your family’s needs, it is best for everyone if you get it right the first time. Do not get pushed around by your spouse. Do not give up to make things quicker. Hire an attorney and get the help you need to build your new life.