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Emotions run high when going through a divorce or separation, and hasty actions in a stress situation can result in a child custody plan that is not in the best interest of yourself or your child.  Therefore, in the interest of achieving a child custody plan that is workable for you, your ex-spouse and your child or children, controlling your demeanor during the development of your custody plan is crucial.

Avoid child custody pitfalls by remembering the most important goal:  establishing a new sustainable life for all involved.  The following points will aid you in the development of your child custody plan:

  1. Be involved and stay involved in your child’s life. Parents who are continuously involved with their child is much more likely to stay as involved when the custody plan goes into effect.  Do not be passive or stop acting as a parent, otherwise, the possibility increases that you will not be granted as much time as you could have in the order that is put into place.  Participate in all areas of your child’s life, such as helping with homework, reading together, having playtime, or attending events where the child needs you to be at.  Be acquainted with other adults that are involved in your child’s life.  Know their teachers, counselors, close friends’ parents, etc.  If you are a consistent presence in your child’s life, it demonstrates how much you want things to stay that way.
  2. When you have interactions with your ex-spouse and co-parent, stay calm and professional. Try to treat them as you would a business associate.  Remaining controlled and professional, and keeping your conversations to the issues at hand will help avoid heated topics and not detract from your goal of achieving a good result in the final child custody plan for you.  You can always discuss any issues that may be an emotionally charged and sensitive with your trusted family lawyer or attorney.  Try to consider all statements which would do more harm than good.
  3. Support your co-parent as a key figure in your child’s life. You may not be on the best terms, but remember how important it is for your child to have two parents.  Although there may be circumstances where a parent may cause more harm than good, being rational helps find the best solution for your child.  There is a difference between true harm to your child from your co-parent and harm you perceive because you do not like your ex.  Because the courts want both parents to prove they can work cooperatively as co-parents, discouraging your co-parent’s involvement could backfire on you.
  4. Keep accurate records. Actions and words cannot be taken back once performed or spoken, so be aware how they may someday come back to you. Your interactions with your co-parent may be important for your case, so careful documentation is important.  Phone calls or texting conversations may be edited, deleted or forgotten as unsecured methods of communication.  Writing emails and letters for faxing or mailing is more secure.  Keep a folder for all communications to help keep organized and to have the archive of communications at your fingertips.
  5. To show that you want to remain a consistent figure in your child’s life, be prepared to support this with evidence.  Always bring your organized file to court along with pen and paper.

When you have concerns or questions about your particular situation in dealing with child custody, consult with an experienced family lawyer to give you additional tips in getting the best child custody plan in place for all involved.