Are you divorcing or just starting the process in your divorce case? If so, is custody one legal matter in which you aren’t sure how to proceed?
Divorce is hard all around, and that is certainly true for the ones that are with you during this difficult time. If you have children in your marriage, and the marriage has turned sour or things just aren’t the same anymore between you and your spouse, you still have to think of the best interests of your children. You may want to review some of these tips mentioned below that can assist you in your case.
In regards to your time with your children, during and after the divorce, you will want to keep a detailed log or diary of all visits with your children. This is even if you are the spouse that has primary custody of your child or if you receive child support. Even when your child is with you most of the time, you should still record when your ex-spouse picks up the child and drops them off. You also want to record when your ex-spouse sends a friend or relative to do the exchanges, being sure to make a note of it and record the person’s name.
Stick To Plan
Ideally, you have come to some sort of agreement between you and your spouse, in the form of a Parenting Plan. Or maybe, there is a temporary Order, or permanent Order, in place determining a visitation schedule for your child to see you both on a set schedule.
If you are scheduled to have your child for visitation, then you should definitely do so. Calling to cancel or switch a weekend does not make you look good in the eyes of the judge, if your divorce is still pending, and it certainly does not promote the idea that your child is a priority. This is also sending that message to your child and to your ex-spouse.
Remain Active In Your Child’s Life
Does your child do after-school activities? Have they entered into the Talent Show? Do they really want to go to the museum or go camping? The answer here is to be there. Go to their school chorus concert. Cheer for them at that Talent Show when they perform their amazing act in front of the entire student body. During one of your visitations, take them into the backyard and build a fire and roast some marshmallows and sleep in makeshift sleeping bags. Do whatever you can, if your schedule allows, and be there for your child.
Consider Giving Up a Day of Your Visitation Time, If Your Child Asks
There are going to be times when a friend of your child is having a birthday party, or they really want to go to a concert during one of your visitation days. If they are begging you to let them go to the beach for the summer beach party, take the time to consider allowing them to not come with you that day, if this is an activity or event they really want to go to instead. Not only does it show you are flexible, but it will keep your child happy. Being flexible with your child’s wishes and ‘your days’ with them, especially when they get older, is very helpful. Additionally, if this occurs, keep track of this, making note that you are doing this at the request of your child.
Help Your Ex-Spouse on ‘Their’ Days
Maybe your ex-spouse needs help with your child, because they have a job interview to go to, and need childcare assistance on that particular day. If your ex-spouse is unable to go to an activity with your child, or a family emergency occurs that means they cannot have a visitation day, help them out by taking your child, even if it is not ‘your day.’ Don’t think of it like your ex-spouse is inconveniencing you, but like an extra day with your child.
Seeing Other People, Just Not on ‘Your’ Days
If you and your ex-spouse have the divorce still pending, but you have agreed to see other people while this is occurring, you can certainly schedule dates—just not on your days. Cancelling or rescheduling visitation days with your child to date another person is again suggesting that your child is not a priority to you. Always schedule your date nights on the days your child is with their other parent. Additionally, it is not recommended that you introduce anyone to your child until after you have been dating for six (6) months and the divorce decree has been signed by the judge.
If you and your ex-spouse have the divorce still pending, and have agreed to see other people, or your divorce is final, you want to be very judicious with who you choose to date. Research this person before bringing them home to meet your child. See what a simple Google Search brings up, or CaseSearch. Be mindful of their criminal history, if they have one, as you do not want to bring home a registered sex offender, when a simple search would have brought it up. See if they have a history of alcohol or drug abuse, or if their Facebook page brings up concerns. In the process of divorce, you may later be asked who all is residing in your home, and these things might come up.
Don’t Weaponize Your Child
Regardless of if you are still in the divorce process or the decree has been signed, do not use your child against your ex-spouse. Chances are, your child still, and may always, see their other parent as exactly that, their other parent. Just because you both have divorced each other, does not mean your child has divorced one of their parents, or has stopped loving their other parent. Using them to watch over and report the actions of your ex-spouse, or even denying visitation until the ex-spouse will do or agree to something is not going to make you look good in the eyes of the law. Using your child to pass on messages to your ex-spouse, instead of speaking to, or if you can’t do that, texting or emailing them may warp the message, hurt your child, and only cause further strain on the parenting relationship you have to share.
Don’t Be Negative About Your Child’s Other Parent
If you are negative about the person your child got part of their DNA from, your child may internalize that, causing them to feel bad for caring about their other parent, or feel guilty if they ever feel they are taking sides. They may see you arguing with your ex-spouse or complaining to a friend about their other parent, and you speak in derogatory remarks or negatively about your ex-spouse. Not only does that teach your child how to handle bad situations and other people, but it can damage their relationship with their parents, either with you, if they don’t agree partially or completely, or to their other parent. They are children still, and your divorce is between you and your ex-spouse. They hear what you are saying about your ex-spouse, whether good or bad. If you must vent about them, do it well out of hearing of little ears.
Get Legal Advice Prior to Moving
If you are the parent that has your child majority of the time, there may come a time you are interested in moving elsewhere. Seek legal advice prior to moving to another county or out-of-state. Generally, you require the courts permission prior to relocating your children. Without it, you may cause a custody battle. Additionally, if your ex-spouse files anything, you would receive written notice to your last known address, so keeping the courts aware of your change of address will help you remain aware of any legal paperwork that comes your way.
There are certainly many more parts to a child custody case, but these tips are very basic and useful. If you are in the middle of a custody battle, or are thinking of trying for custody, you can certainly schedule a consultation with our office to discuss your concerns, and to get your next steps.
If you want more information, check out the original article in regards to this legal matter here: https://www.claerygreen.com/Family-Law-Blog/2017/June/9-Child-Custody-Tips-for-Your-Case.aspx
FANNING LAW, LLC CAN HELP
We assist individuals and families with family law issues and other legal concerns in Southern Maryland, Washington DC, and throughout the region. For more information about how Fanning Law, LLC can help you and your family, contact Bill Fanning at Fanning Law, LLC - The Offices of William C. Fanning, Jr. - 301.934.3620 or at www.fanninglawllc.com.