If you have found yourself facing down a custody dispute that takes a turn for the worse, you are not alone. Take a deep breath, and buckle down. Custody battles aren’t pretty, and for men especially. According to the U.S. Census, less than 18% of custodial parents are fathers.
However, there is hope! Here are 5 ways you can prepare for a successful custody battle.
Prioritize Your Child’s Routine
Custody battles hinge on your ability to keep your child healthy and happy. The best way to prove this of yourself is to live it during one of the most stressful periods of your life—that is, your custody battle and divorce. Proving that you can maintain your child’s health and happiness during a time of uncertainty and strife is paramount.
To stay true to your duty to provide for your child’s welfare, prioritize the preservation of your child’s existing routine over almost all else—including your own ego. You should determine the lengths to which you can go to do this without compromising your own physical or mental health, and then you should meet that standard.
The upkeep of your child’s regular schedule is important in maintaining their mental health. A parental separation is undoubtedly a period of great anxiety for kids, so you should go to every conceivable length to keep their days as normal as possible.
At every stage in the process of your custody dispute, you should revisit and amend as needed your ideal custody agreement. Your success for the least painful custody battle possible is contingent on your ability to create a plan which accounts for the limitations and advantages of your lifestyle.
You should be realistic about what sort of commitment you are angling for in a custody battle. Further, you should be aware of what the opposing party might use against you during the dispute and come prepared with answers.
Remember that the central premise of your ideal custody agreement proposal is the preservation of your child’s welfare and happiness. Structuring your proposal with this in mind will help impress upon the mediator or judge your readiness and seriousness.
Know Your Rights
“As the father, it is your privilege and your right to be there for them, provide for and support them, and play a major role in the development and nurturing of your children, from the crib onwards,” according to National Family Solutions, an organization which helps secure fathers rights in Texas. “Under the Texas Family Code, a parent’s rights in Texas include the right to direct the moral and religious training of their child, to direct their place of residence, and have physical possession of the child, as well as make decisions regarding their education, represent the child in legal matters, and consent to their medical care, among other rights and duties.”
Get to know the intricacies of your rights to custody in your state. Knowing what you should be fighting for is the first step of any custody battle.
Make Time for Yourself
In the time of COVID-19 and the consequent social distancing, it is easy to become quite cramped in your home with your family. Throw in the stress of a custody dispute and possibly caring for a child and you have a recipe for a hurricane of stress.
To keep your child healthy and happy, you should be keeping yourself healthy and happy, too. You are of no use to anyone if you are sad and sick all the time! Overstress can manifest itself in short tempers or sour moods, so take care to dedicate a chunk of time each week to your mental and physical health!
In short, taking care of yourself is a means of taking care of your child. You are setting a great example for them, too, and are ensuring that—no matter the outcome of the custody dispute—you will be parenting at the top of your game.
Should You Retain a Lawyer?
One of the biggest decisions you’ll make over the course of your custody dispute is whether or not you should retain the services of a lawyer. The answer? It depends! Custody cases themselves can be costly, ranging from thousands to tens of thousands of dollars. The added cost of a lawyer can potentially make these already monumental investments unmanageable.
All of that said, your child’s future is at stake. And if you don’t get it right the first time, litigating a new custody agreement down the line can be worse for you in the long run financially. Hiring a qualified and experienced attorney might be the right thing to do if you are facing an uphill battle or are unfamiliar or unable to brush up to act as your own legal counsel.