A child custody battle is one of the most stressful, heartbreaking, depressing, and yet important things that will happen to divorced parents. In a perfect world, you would both agree to co-parent your kids. You would agree to share in the emotional, financial, physical, and emotional turmoil and joy of raising these kids to be responsible adults (much more responsible than you, we hope). Yet, we do not live in a perfect world. This is the most imperfect world there ever can be. Divorce happens, and more painful than that, child custody cases are a reality that parents face all the time.
At the center of this long and arduous battle are the kids who silently suffer from the difficulties of choosing between both people they love. How are they coping with it? How do they see things? Sometimes, parents tend to forget about their kids when they are hating on each other. This, first and foremost, is the most important thing you need to address.
Focus on Your Kids’ Best Interests
As mentioned above, your kids’ well-being should be front and center of your every decision—from divorce to custody. A lot of parents lose sight of this because of the emotions they have to go through during the divorce and child custody proceedings. Parents are so concerned about winning the battle that they forget this isn’t about winning. It’s not about trying to beat your ex. It’s about having your kids’ best interests at heart. What is good for them? Remember that children will benefit from having both parents in their lives, no matter how bad your relationship with your ex turned out to be.
Hire an Experienced Lawyer
From day one, this is what matters the most, too: hire experienced divorce and family lawyers who know exactly what needs to be done for your kids. The focus should be the interests of your kids and not you or your spouse’s. They’re the ones most affected by the separation, even though it hurts for you now. The lawyers will guide you from the filing of the case to the mediation to the final battle of court hearings (in case mediations don’t work). They will ensure that you get what is due to you.
Agree to Work Together
Now, this is advice is for you and your ex-spouse. Things can become ugly in the courtroom or in any custody battle. Agree beforehand that when things go awry, both of you will hit the pause button. If it somehow affects your kids already, then don’t be afraid to guard your kids regardless of how bad you feel about the situation. And regardless of where your relationship with your ex stands, it is still much better to settle this custody battle outside of court. Letting the courts decide on the well-being of your kids is the worst thing you can do as a parent.
Work on Yourself
If worse comes to worst and you are forced to settle this in court, remember that your personal life will be put under a microscope. What are the things that you believe won’t stand in court? Here are some examples: inability to hold a full-time job, not having your own place, and not having the capacity to provide financially for your kids. Address these issues beforehand since they can work against you. If you present yourself in court with these issues already addressed, then the other party cannot use them against you anymore.
Be Cautious of Your Social Media Use
It’s so easy to complain about your ex, custody case, kids, job, and many other things on social media. But do you know that these things can be used against you in a custody battle? Your activities on social media can be a reason why you cannot even get visitation rights to your kids. The court will use the “persona” you have on social media to judge your character and ability to raise kids in a healthy environment. Instead of posting on social media about your woes, talk about them with a counselor, with friends, and even with your family. They’ll have your best interests at heart.
Society doesn’t expect people to be perfect partners, but they expect parents to do what’s best for their kids. It’s the same demand you must impose on yourself when you are fighting the heartbreaking battle of child custody. You must think of the welfare of your children first and foremost before you can even start to analyze your feelings about what happened to your family life.