When parents are splitting and will no longer live in the same household, there has to be an arrangement in place, preferably on paper, that will facilitate where the minor children will live, how they will be cared for and by whom primarily, and how key decisions affecting the children will be made and by whom.
Hopefully parting parents can be cordial, make plans for their children, and agree between themselves on how to maintain their children's stability--i.e., the "status quo" in living arrangements and standard of living created pre-break up. If the parents cannot agree and no resolution is reached, then a judge may decide.
Last week, I described three signs that the parties will not be able to agree on child custody: 1) the mere fact that the couple is splitting; 2) prior domestic violence between the partners; and 3) financial drama in the relationship.
If your custody matters end up in court, it may be a long road to finally secure the arrangements that you desire and believe are in the best interests of your family.
Along the way, a parent may develop serious misconceptions about the process. These thoughts, beliefs and feelings may be evident, or they may be hidden. They can prevent effective plans from forming, or can torpedo the most carefully laid plans negatively impacting the end result in court.
I've discussed the need to form a cohesive team, have a realistic plan for success, and execute well on that plan. It is important to detect and bring harbored misconceptions out into the open, then dispel them through knowledge, education and more planning:)
Here are three common misconceptions that can impact a custody challenge:
Misconception #1: I Can't Lose!
Overconfidence is a killer. I've already described in past posts how family court norms have changed. Your partner enters the battle with an equal chance of winning full child custody. It is your job to establish why this would not in the child's best interest. If there is no settlement, you will have to prove your case to the bench. This may not be a clear-cut task. Custody is a complicated area. Many, many factors can influence your success. Even if you have been the indisputed "primary parent" during the relationship, gaining primary custody in court may still not be a slam dunk. The parental "rights" movement is strong and there are many tactics that can be employed. Don't be overconfident. Hire a LAWYER YOU TRUST to help you develop a viable plan. Then faithfully execute on the plan to the end.
Misconception #2: I Can't Win!
Lack of confidence is also deadly. The strategy of a DEDICATED CUSTODY LAWYER will change depending upon which parent is represented. In the case of a parent who has perhaps not spent as much time with their child as the other parent, and may believe it will not be proper or possible to obtain significant parenting time post-split, know that this may well not be the case. It is crucial for children that both parents continue to have a substantial and active role in their lives. Any parent who is prepared to give up custody and simply pay child support (Next Time: Three Ways to Lower or Increase Child Support), while spending little or no time parenting, owes it to their child and themselves to consult an EXPERIENCED ATTORNEY. Conversely, any parent who is unable to secure a fair child support payment in the best interest of their child, must seek AGGRESSIVE counsel and representation. These cases are not easy. They are difficult. But for your child's sake, you must invest the effort.
Misconception #3: I Can Do this Myself!
Tragically, many people in legal trouble will not call a lawyer and seek the help they need, only because they fear the cost. (Next Time: Three Ways to Keep Your Family Law Lawyer Fees Low) Again, custody is a complicated area and many, many factors can influence your success. The correct moves to make and most effective strategy to employ may be unclear. These cases are deceptively simple and you may believe you can handle the case on your own. If you can, God bless you. But why take the chance? Instead, CHOOSE AN AFFORDABLE, TRUSTWORTHY LAWYER (Next Time: Three Ways to Tell If You Can Trust Your Family Lawyer), commit to the process, and follow your lawyer's advice. Don't be the one wondering "what happened?" when the smoke clears. Don't be the one to unjustifiably lose custody rights, or be hit with an unmanageable child support payment. You do not want to have to explain to your children "what went wrong." Many lawyers today have easy terms and payment plans. Do not be afraid. CALL US for experienced and insightful help today:)
Wishing you peaceful journeys. CALL US for experienced and insightful help today!