If at all possible it is best to avoid fighting over the children. However, for those who know they will be involved in a contested custody battle below are some things you can do to help your case. As always each case is different so this should not be taken as legal advice. Contact us for a free case evaluation to find out the best way to handle your custody case.
If a contested custody dispute is inevitable you will want to share as much information with your attorney as possible. The best way to do that is to, on a daily basis, note the time you spend with the children, the time your spouse spends with the children and who attends to their daily needs. Pay special attention to documenting any problems related to the children and/or bad behavior on the part of your spouse. These records can be indispensable when it comes to a custody dispute, as they are documentary evidence supporting your position. Record everything now matter how small you may think it is. Your attorney will decide whats important and it will aid your memory.
You have as much right to be in the home as your spouse. If you have children and you leave the household, especially for an extended time period, you may jeopardize your position in a custody dispute.
Your spouse has no more parenting rights than you. Until and unless a court issues an order defining parental rights both parties stand on equal ground. Allowing your spouse to leave with the children can significantly impact on a future custody fight. If you suspect your spouse intends to leave with the children see an attorney immediately.
There is no reason that your spouse should have the majority of time with the children. There is no reason why the children should be babysat by relatives, if a parent is available. Educate yourself on parenting plans. There is more than one way to divide time with the children. Speak to an attorney about which type of plan may be best in your situation. Review our article on Parenting Plans for more information.
A first right of refusal means that if the child needs a babysitter your spouse must call you first. There is no reason to have the child cared for by a third party when a parent is available.
During the divorce the children maybe confused enough without the addition of a new person in their lives. Even older children are unsettled by a divorce. By exposing your children to a new partner during this time, you may cause undue confusion and even harm your position in a custody dispute.
Parental alienation occurs when one parent attempts to alienate the child from the other parent. This is done sometimes by the parent making negative comments about the other parent and in extreme cases by refusing to allow one parent to have contact with the child. If this occurring it is a very serious situation and should not be allowed to progress. If you suspect this occurring consult with your attorney immediately to take corrective measures before its too late.
The court can take in to consideration whether one parent is providing support or not in its decision to award custody. If you are under a court order of support do everything you can not to get behind so that this cannot be used as ammunition against you. If your support order is to burdensome see your attorney about having it reduced or modified as soon as possible.
A parent who refuses to allow visitation because they feel that they haven’t received enough or all of the support due is jeopardizing their position in a custody dispute. The law is very clear that the issue of child support and visitation must be viewed separately and one cannot be used to deny access to the children.
While the divorce is pending whether you and your spouse are still living together or not, issues pertaining to the divorce including issues pertaining to custody should never be discussed with the children. Doing so may be seen as an attempt to improperly influence the children.
It is extremely unfortunate, but in some cases a parent will attempt to elicit from a child a commitment for them to live with them or to support one parent over another. This can lead to serious psychological consequences, if you suspect your spouse has done this with your child contact your attorney immediately.
No matter how badly one parent may behave the worst thing that you can do is to stop being involved in your children’s lives because its simply to difficult or too hard to endure the behavior of the other parent. If you don’t stand up for your rights now then the other parent’s tactics will have won and in the end both you and the children will suffer.
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