A child custody battle may be one of the most stressful experiences a parent can undergo. When you don’t know what to expect and you’re not sure how it will end, it’s best to work with an experienced San Antonio child custody attorney who can walk you through the process and help prepare you.
When a child custody case goes to trial, you and your ex will have to abide by the decision of the judge. You may have a better resolution if you and your ex can negotiate an agreement between yourselves if that’s possible. The court will make their decision based on the best interest of the child. They will consider all factors about both parents and aim for a situation that would allow the child to have a meaningful relationship with both.
This may mean joint conservatorship, which includes shared decision-making but not necessarily equal time. If you and your ex are unable to reach an agreement, there are several factors the court will see favorably and that will help tip the scales in your favor.
Don’t Abandon Your Parental Duties
A judge will look favorably at parents who take an active role in their children’s life. It’s important that you do not abandon your parental duties before and after you and your ex separate.
This means diaper changes, bath time, carpool, homework, and any other activities that are common in your household and required for the care of your children. If you know a divorce is imminent, begin keeping a calendar that documents who is handling the different responsibilities in the home.
This includes who comes to the activities, takes the children to doctor’s appointments, and attends school meetings. If you or your spouse travel for work, keep a record of that as well.
It should go without saying that the judge will not look favorably at parents who act irresponsibly, especially when that behavior may place the child in danger. Drinking and driving, using drugs, overuse of prescription drugs, or leaving young children unsupervised will be damaging in a custody hearing.
If your ex can accurately claim and prove that you have used recreational drugs, been drunk around the children, or engaged in any reckless behaviors, it gives them the advantage in a custody hearing. Because reckless behavior can endanger your ability to win child custody, your behavior must always be beyond reproach.
Even if you don’t engage in these behaviors, it may not stop your ex from painting stories of you as an unfit parent. If your spouse cannot substantiate those stories and your behavior is above reproach, it reduces your risk of losing.
Keep your attention on the child. The judge wants to decide in the best interest of your children. By focusing on ensuring the same, and not flinging accusations at your ex, it demonstrates your desire to do what’s best for your children.
Ask for an In-Home Evaluation
Unfortunately, during a child custody battle, it can come down to “he said/she said.” You may gain an early advantage by scheduling an in-home evaluation with a court-appointed evaluator who will assess the environment you provide to raise your child.
Taking the initiative and not waiting for the court to order an in-home evaluation places you in a position of power. You won’t be caught off-guard and can prepare your home and yourself for success. An in-home evaluation also helps provide evidence against any ridiculous claims that your ex may make to the judge.
Cooperate With Your Ex and the Court
No matter how angry you are with your ex, it is imperative that you always treat them with respect. Judges do not appreciate rude or disrespectful actions against a child’s parent during a custody case.
Although it is likely a tough step, your life will be easier if you accept compromises and cooperate with your ex whenever possible. No matter what type of ex you’re dealing with, emotional partner or narcissistic personality, for example, compromises can open doors to a mutual agreement that you arrive at outside of court.
An agreement the two of you make between you, even one laden with compromises, may be far more beneficial for you and your children than what you’d get in court. You may not get everything you want, but you may get more than you would have if the judge found your actions unfavorable.
Likewise, it’s important to obey all of the custody rules and regulations outlined by the court. They are usually pretty straightforward. If you are asked to do something, then do it. Failure to follow court orders, such as taking a drug test or attending a therapy session, places your dedication to caring for your children in question.
Contact an Experienced San Antonio Child Custody Lawyer
An experienced San Antonio child custody attorney can help you and your ex negotiate a compromise that you can live with. If you and your ex cannot reach a negotiated settlement, the family law attorneys at Higdon, Hardy & Zuflacht, L.L.P. will fight to protect your rights in court. They balance compassion and understanding with experience to represent you in every step of your case. Call the skilled and professional legal team of Higdon, Hardy & Zuflacht, L.L.P. today at (210) 349-9933 to schedule your initial, confidential consultation.