The divorce process is already stressful enough, but adding disagreements over child custody and support into the legal battle can make it even more so. The best thing to do is to hire the best child custody lawyer you can afford (getting an attorney for child custody is an absolute must, even in an otherwise amicable divorce) and try to stay calm — a difficult task for most parents, for obvious reasons. Here are some things you should keep in mind from before you even file the divorce papers until the divorce lawyers have wrapped up the final legal arrangements:
- The Court Protects Children’s Best Interests
It can be worrisome to know that the future of your child or children is partially being decided by a legal official who doesn’t even know them. But one way to keep your cool is to remember that the whole point of child custody court is to look out for the interests of children. While you may or may not agree with how that goal should be reached, it should help to know that everyone involved has the same basic objective.
- Not All Child Custody Battles Are Ugly
In most cases, the court wants parents to decide on custody between themselves. That means the first choice (assuming you don’t immediately agree outside the legal system altogether) is mediation. This is when the parents are encouraged or ordered to sit down with a third-party moderator and create a parenting plan together. While it’s a good idea to have an attorney for child custody disagreements on hand, don’t go in assuming that things will automatically get ugly and end up in front of a judge.
- Long Battles Are Bad for Kids
When you’re embroiled in an extended court battle over child custody, it’s important to know when to fight and when to settle. Take into account the advice of your attorney on how likely it is you’ll win, talk to your former spouse and children (if it’s legally permissible), and try to assess whether a less-than-ideal outcome is better or worse than subjecting your children to more instability. Especially if your children are on the cusp of being old enough to either have a say in which of you is the custodial parent or will be moving out in the near future, it might be to everyone’s advantage if you decided to be less aggressive in your legal efforts. After all, it’s likely that when the dust settles, you and your ex will both be a part of your children’s lives, and you don’t want that relationship to be a toxic one.
Do you have any other questions to ask about child custody or support? Do you have any advice on choosing or working with an attorney for child custody cases? Share your thoughts and concerns in the comments.