Custody battles are an emotional and stressful experience for everyone involved.
It’s difficult to know exactly what to expect, but you don’t need to go in completely blind.
Every situation is unique and you want to be prepared. Make sure you meet with a qualified attorney to discuss your case and possible options.
Here’s everything you need to know about winning custody battles.
How a custody battle works
The rules have changed a bit.
In most scenarios, both parents hold full-time jobs in addition to taking care of family duties.
Instead of immediately granting full custody to the mother, the courts typically analyze the situation and decide what’s in the child’s best interests.
Remember: the ultimate goal is to determine what’s best for the child. In order to do this, the court looks at many factors:
- Financial stability, employment, and savings.
- Living situation and child raising ability.
- Physical, emotional, and mental health.
- Reasons for seeking custody.
- Willingness to support a healthy relationship with the other parent.
- Overall relationship with the child.
- The child’s wishes (in some cases).
Several considerations could have a negative impact on your custody battle including:
- Crime convictions, especially drug-related or violent charges.
- Substance abuse.
- Plans to move that could impact the other parent’s visitation.
- Domestic violence allegations.
- Having a job that limits your ability to care for the child.
Each case is unique so there isn’t a simple equation for granting custody.
The custody legal process
If you and your spouse communicate fairly well, you may not need to go through the hassle of entering a courtroom.
In many cases, a custody battle may be worked out through other less stressful means. However, if you and your partner can’t seem to agree on a custody arrangement, you’ll need to go in front of a judge.
- Alternative dispute resolution: Parents may meet with attorneys and reach an agreement in a private setting through mediation or other routes without entering a courtroom.
- Contested cases: If alternative dispute resolution doesn’t work, a judge will look over your custody case and decide which arrangement is in the child’s best interests.
Types of custody
Unless the child’s life or welfare is at risk, a judge will typically favor joint custody arrangements. This is because spending equal time with both parents is generally what’s best for the child.
However, nothing is guaranteed and there are several different types of custody.
- Legal custody: A parent with legal custody will make important decisions for the child regarding education, healthcare, and even religion.
- Physical custody: This refers to where the child resides.
- Sole custody: One parent has both legal and physical custody. The other parent may have visitation time unless the child’s life could be at risk.
- Joint legal custody: Both parents are able to make important decisions for the child. If the parents can’t agree, they may see a judge for a final decision.
- Joint physical custody: The child spends equal time living with both parents usually either on a weekly or bi-weekly schedule.
How to win a custody battle
What does it mean to “win” a custody battle?
Well, that depends on your goals.
Some parents may be looking for sole custody while others might simply be fighting for equal responsibility through joint custody.
If you want sole custody, you’ll need to demonstrate why you’re the best fit to make important decisions and care for the child on a full-time basis.
Since the courts typically favor joint custody, this also means you’ll have to show that the other parent is unfit to care for the child.
Whatever your goals are, it’s important to focus on the needs of the child both inside and outside the courtroom. The court or judge will consider:
- Physical wellbeing. Can you provide a healthy lifestyle? This includes sleeping habits, diet, activities, and the child’s routine.
- Psychological well being. Do you encourage the child to develop a healthy relationship with the other parent through visitation and other routes?
How a father can win a custody battle
Luckily for dads, the courts don’t automatically favor the mother anymore. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean seeking full custody of your children won’t come without a challenge. Here’s how a father can win a custody battle with proper preparation:
- Keep detailed records. Maintain a log of all the time you spend with the child along with expenses and child support payments.
- Hire an attorney. Find an attorney that specializes in fathers’ rights.
- Put the child’s needs first. Set-up a room for the child in your home prior to the hearing and attend after school activities.
- Prepare to answer questions. The judge or mediator will ask why you are seeking custody as well as how you plan to accommodate the child’s needs. Have the answers ready.
- Be actively involved. Call the child regularly and stay involved with their school activities.
Custody battles for mothers
No matter your gender, it’s unwise to enter a courtroom unprepared. Judges don’t automatically grant mothers full custody unless they can prove the father is a danger to the child’s well being.
Here are some tips when entering custody battles for mothers:
- Don’t alienate the father. Fathers have parental rights. Restricting the father’s access to the child without a court order does not look good in the judge’s eyes.
- Find the right attorney. It’s important to meet with a qualified professional to discuss your situation and possible outcomes.
- Document everything. You’ll want to demonstrate to the judge why you’re the best fit for the child.
- Plan ahead: Do you plan on moving? Where will the child attend school? Even if you have full custody, you can’t deny the father’s visitation rights by moving out of state or far away.
Preparation is the key to winning custody battles
Remember: your custody goals might not always be in the child’s best interests. It’s always important to meet with a qualified attorney to discuss your case.