Six things women can do to prepare for child custody arrangements

Separated from your husband and need to work out who has the children? Here are six things women can do to prepare for child custody arrangements.

It is not uncommon for parents to disagree on what’s best for their children. And when a couple get divorced, it can be difficult to decide how the children should spend time with each parent. This is where child custody orders come in.

The court will assign one parent as the primary custodian and one as the secondary custodian. The parents will then have a set amount of time that they’ll spend with their children. 

For many, this is an unthinkable situation that can be brought on by a divorce or other unforeseen circumstances. Before you get to the point where you’re fighting over your kids, make sure to take some time and consider these six important points to better prepare for a child custody battle. 

1) Consider joint custody

Over the years, there have been many changes in terms of child custody law. In that time, joint custody has been on the rise, and it usually is something that you should consider before deciding to go for exclusive custody.

If a parent has joint custody, they are able to enjoy more time with their children. You’ll need to work on your relationship with your child’s father in order to make it easier for you and your child. It’s not always an easy road, but you can make it through as long as the terms are well considered.

Parents who have joint custody are often able to talk through arrangements and any parenting issues better, instead of just fighting over them. This means that issues will not go unresolved as quickly and there will be fewer arguments to deal with. 

You can ask for help from law firms like the Melbourne Law Studio if you don’t know how to deal with your ex-spouse. You can also turn to family and friends for advice. A professional counsellor can guide you in the right direction, too and help you navigate a new joint parenting relationship with your ex-partner.

2) Try temporary agreements

While it may be tempting to avoid dealing with your husband altogether when pursuing exclusive custody, try your best to talk it over beforehand. The two of you might come up with some answers together, which is something that is always preferable to (and usually cheaper than) having a third party decide what will happen to your family.

There will still be areas where you disagree, but if you can find some common ground, and identify the issues each of you are happy to compromise on, you may find that between the two of you you can make an agreement to try going forward.

If nothing else works for you, consider a temporary agreement until you are prepared for an official one, which can take years, if ever completed.

3) Prepare yourself financially

If you need to go to court for exclusive custody of your children, it’s important to be properly prepared, as it is highly likely that you will face expensive legal fees.

If you are not financially stable, you might have a hard time winning the case, so it’s important to be aware of the financial ramifications if you wish to go with exclusive custody, and ensure you have a plan to pay for any costs.

4) Hire a lawyer with a background in family law

When it comes time to fight for exclusive custody, you’ll want to do whatever is necessary in order for things to go the right way. It’s important to bear in mind that not all judges will be able to find a middle ground, and some may rule in favour of one side or another. 

This is why you will need to prove excellent parenting skills. So share positive stories about your parenting style, rather than simply constantly criticizing the father. Also make sure that you document everything you’ve done for your child, so that it can be used as proof of your parenting in the courtroom. 

However, do not expect that the court system will automatically side with you because they assume children belong with their mothers. The law doesn’t see things from this perspective and even judges can be biased towards men or women, despite how much evidence you provide them with. 

5) Make sure your children are safe

If there is any chance of your child being harmed by their father or anyone else, talk to the police immediately. Make sure your children are safe at all times. If they aren’t safe while living with their father, or he has a history of hurting them, then don’t even think about attempting shared custody.

It’s also important to remember that in some cases abusive men won’t take no for an answer, and may use violence to get what they want. So if you have left an abusive marriage, you need to be ready to protect yourself and your children from the very real possibility of your child’s father taking things too far. 

A good family lawyer who is experienced in dealing with narcissists and abusers will understand better how your ex-husband’s mind works, and will know how to work out all legal situations regarding custody.

6) Keep visitation rights

It is important for children of both genders to have extended contact with both parents, but most cases do not allow this. This could be a vital step in the right direction in order to avoid confusion and anger issues that might arise from a lack of contact with one parent.

Make sure you have taken important steps to keep visitation rights for your child, because failing to do so can cost you thousands in legal fees just trying to gain visitation. Also, consider having all visitation arrangements documented after an agreement has been made.

Plan ahead and be proactive to protect your children

Divorce can be difficult when there are children involved and custody arrangements need to be made. The best way to prepare for the possible outcomes of a custody dispute is to think ahead and make sure to be proactive when it comes to your child’s future. 

Make sure that you have a lawyer with experience in family law and also ensure your children are safe during visitation rights. Consider temporary agreements instead of waiting until the divorce is finalized before making decisions about child custody arrangements or splitting up assets.

If this all sounds too complicated, find a good attorney who will help walk you through the process so that it doesn’t seem so daunting.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao