Keith B. Schulefand, Esq.
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Preparing for a child custody battle

You may have held out hope that you and your soon-to-be former spouse would be able to work out your custody issues without having to go to court. After all, many other New York couples are able to set aside their feelings about each other for the sake of the children.

The fact is that what works for one couple may not work for another. If your situation requires you to take your custody issues to court, so be it. Instead of continuing to try to resolve the issue amicably, you may want to begin preparing for your child custody hearing.

Preparation tips

When you consider how to present your case for custody, you may want to take the following factors into account:

  • The court focuses on what will serve the best interests of the child. The court may expect you to be willing to make concessions instead of focusing on what may work best for you.
  • You may not agree with the court's view on what makes someone the better parent. Reviewing the "better parent standard" may help you understand how this concept affects the decision the court makes.
  • Make sure you gather all of the documentation you want to present to the court. You may only get one chance to fully present your case.
  • Regardless of how you may feel about the other parent as a spouse, the court needs to know that you can communicate with him or her when it comes to the children.
  • The way you act, communicate and even dress while in the courtroom matters. You only get one chance to make a first impression.

Even if you aren't acting as the primary custodian of your children during the divorce, spend as much time with your children as you can. The courts like to ensure that both parents remain active in their children's lives, and if you have done your best to do that, the court may consider that fact when making a decision.

Even a loose parenting plan can help

Even though you and the other parent couldn't come to a custody agreement outside of court, that does not mean you do not have at least a loose parenting plan that you follow during the proceedings. This could provide a starting point for you and the court.

You may only be able to get so far on your own in your preparations. Protecting your rights and obtaining and presenting the appropriate evidence in court may require a more experienced hand. You may increase your chances of achieving the outcome you desire by involving a family attorney in your plight.

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