Child custody and visitation disputes are highly emotional and legally complicated. Whether you are heading in to court or a mediation session to resolve these issues, it is important for parents to prepare because it can be easy to get overwhelmed in these situations.
If you are a father, then you would be especially wise to prepare, as many men feel like they are at a disadvantage in custody cases from the very beginning. Below are some suggestions for what you can do.
- Spend time with your children. Do not skip visitation opportunities or show up late for exchanges. Use this time to build or maintain the connection you have with your child, as it will be a factor when determining custody. And regardless of the legal implications, spending time with your children can help them feel more stable and secure during this difficult time.
- Refrain from lashing out at your ex. Any physical altercations or verbal harassment can work against you in custody disputes. A man can easily be painted as volatile or angry, so stay calm and avoid confrontation. This is especially important in cases where an ex attempts to provoke you.
- Keep records. This includes details on any issues that may have come up during custody exchanges and conversations with the other parent. This can also include anything that shows your willingness to work with the other parent, like picking up your kids from school if he or she is sick, even if it’s the other parent’s time but they are unavailable.
- Get organized. Have all your paperwork ready and organized. Doing this can help you feel more in control and minimize the potential for surprise. It also shows that you are capable of managing stressful situations.
You can discuss these and other preparation tactics with your attorney. Above all, be sure you take the situation seriously. Being unprepared during the custody process or approaching the situation casually can prove to be a costly mistake that could jeopardize your parental rights and your relationship with your child.