One of the worst and most damaging aspects of the divorce is the custody battle. Usually associated with bitter divorces, the custody battle is a difficult time not just on the parents but most on the child. Years ago, custody automatically went to the mother since it was deemed that children need the nurturing of a mother more than they do the financial support or discipline of the father. Today, you cannot assume the mother will get custody since fathers can be just as nurturing in many cases.
Instead, the judge of the custody case is going to look at which parent is capable of providing the best environment in which the child could be raised. If you are getting ready for a custody battle and want to do everything possible to win your case, you need to prove to the judge that you are in fact that parent, the one that can nurture the child while also providing him or her with financial support, medical care, love, support, good schooling, and so on.
Your best option is to start documenting everything that could benefit the custody case. With so much at stake, you want to keep track of your benefits but also the reasons why your ex-husband or wife would not be the better parent. Unfortunately, this sometimes means bringing up some very personal and damaging things but if this is in the best interest of the child,
To prove to the judge that you would be the better parent for your child, keep track of the activities your child participates in daily, as well as how you assist. For instance, if your child plays volleyball and you take him or her, as well as serve as the line judge, you are showing the judge of the case that you provide the transportation on a regular basis but that you also get involved with the activity. This will show the judge that you consistently support the child in extracurricular activities.
In addition, while the divorce proceedings are going on, it is essential that you participate in as many school activities as you can. This would include parent/teacher meetings, school plays, sporting events, bake sales, whatever is going on. Then, make sure you spend time talking to your child's parent, which will show the judge that you make time out of your schedule to be at these activities and that you also spend time with the teacher to stay on top of your child's school issues.
If your child becomes sick and needs to go to the doctor or dentist, do all you can to be the one that takes the child. Again, you are taking the role as the nurturing parent, the caregiver if you will. With this, you are supporting your case to become the custodial parent. Then, encourage and help your child with any church activities. Take him or her to Sunday school, plays, musicals, or other special programs offered, offering to assist if you can.
You also want to plan vacations for your child. Even if you go to the lake for the weekend, it is important the judge see that you have time, finances, and interest in spending quality one-on-one time with the child in a vacation setting. The key is to get all the witnesses possible that you are doing everything in your power to be the best parent for the child. Whether the mother or father, these things will go to your side when the judge listens to the case.
As mentioned, poor parenting of the spouse should also be included. Now, if you have or if you want a good working relationship with the child's other parent, you want to be careful. The goal is not to demoralize your ex-spouse but to point out reasons you make the best parent and he or she does not. However, most custody cases are beyond the friendly stage, which is why they exist in the first place. Therefore, if you know of things that are definitely bad for your child, you should not hold back.
In this case, you would want the judge to know if your ex-husband or wife works long hours, leaving for work early, and not coming home until late, which would show that he or she is not able to participate in the child's life as you are. If your ex-spouse has had trouble paying child support on time or does not pay the full amount, get records from the courthouse, which is definitely frowned upon.
Other items you would need to reveal to the judge include any history of spousal abuse, arrests, DWI convictions, drug use, alcoholism, and so on. While these are difficult situations, your goal is to show the judge that putting the child in a home with your ex-spouse creates the situation of potential risk. Any history or evidence of mental illness should also be revealed. Infidelity within the marriage would be another indicator to the judge that perhaps your ex-spouse should not be the custodial parent.
Depending on the case and the involvement of issues, the judge may order that your child be seen by a professional counselor. During the sessions, the counselor would determine any additional problems of which you might not be aware. Then, comments from the child about being left alone, spanked hard, yelled at, or anything else that would be detrimental to your ex-spouses case would be documented and used in court. After doing your job, chances are you will get custody of the child.