There is no subject that raises the heat level as much as a contested child custody case. Parents have a uniquely strong bond with their children. Most of those parents go into “extreme battle mode” when faced with a court battle that may end up drastically restricting their contact with their kids. A custody case can be stressful, mean, expensive, and drawn out. If that did not sound bad enough, the average custody case is fantastically expensive and can drain the financial resources of the average parent. There are ways you can prepare for your custody case that will minimize the damage and increase your chances of success. Follow these simple guidelines to best prepare for any heated custody battle:
1. Stop drinking, stop smoking pot, and cease the use of any drugs. That may seem like a no brainer but many people will not follow this simple bit of common sense. Illegal or semi-legal drugs do not mix with a custody case. Your use of those substances reflects on your ability to parent. And the use of drugs is certainly detectable. Many a custody case has turned on a simple urine or hair test that screens for drugs. An accusation that you use drugs may strike a chord with a judge that carries a personal dislike for drug use. So if your custody battle is important to you, stop all drug use right this moment.
2. If you were using drugs and have successfully stopped, at least 90 days before the custody case heats up, be sure to get your own hair-screening test. It should be “clean” and will provide an invaluable piece of proof should the inevitable accusation of drug usage come up in your custody case.
3. Unless you normally sound like the finest, nicest person in the universe, stop emailing, texting, or sending written messages to the other parent. The basic problem is that most people end up hanging themselves with poorly thought out written communications. Any type of text, email, or letter can be admitted into evidence in court. So if you cannot control every word out of your head make sure you never do anything in writing.
4. Ramp up your involvement with the kids. Be sure to attend soccer games, volleyball games, children’s events, and parent-teacher conferences. Get to know their pediatricians by name and make it a point of attending every visit. Before your custody case begins you should make it apparent that you are part of every fiber of the children’s lives.
5. Stop going out at night. A life of seeing friends and going to bars sounds like a lot of fun. But the life of a good parent is much more boring. Good parents stay home with their kids. And good parents end up doing better in a heated custody battle.
6. If you work extremely early, or late hours, consider a change in your job. Same principle if you work a lot of weekends. The best schedule allows you to drop off the kids at school and also allows you to pick them up at the end of each day.
7. Get rid of your Facebook account. Many a heated custody case has been completely sunk by Facebook postings. Get rid of your account right now. There is no benefit to a Facebook account when it comes to custody cases and the potential harm is great.
8. Don’t move out without the children in tow. If you move out without the children you have just completely destroyed your custody case.
You should live every day like your children are the most important part of your life. Design your day around the children and then plan each weekend for their benefit. Don’t say anything in writing and don’t do anything you would be ashamed for your pastor to see in church. And be careful about everything you do. Because anything negative in your life may be documented, massaged, and highlighted for later presentation in court. Follow those simple steps and you will be on your way to a successful day in court in any heated custody battle.
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