Getting divorced is hard. Very hard! But when you have kids, and you and your spouse can’t agree on who they should live with and for how long, things can get very, very complicated. Custody is always a touchy issue for divorcing parents, and having to duke it out with your least favorite person in the world, just to know where your kids are going to live. However, like it or not, that’s what it often comes to.
Michigan parents who can’t agree on who gets the kids, and for how long, are forced to battle for custody in family court. It’s stressful, time consuming, and expensive. And believe it or not, you can actually sabotage your own efforts by not following certain cardinal rules when it comes to custody fights. So we’ve created a list of the top eight tips we want every parent to know before they engage in a battle for their children.
1. Make sure you have the best attorney available
The person who stands next to you in court, and speaks on your behalf to the Judge is going to make a huge difference to how this all turns out in the end. Get a great attorney with lots of experience, and you’ll have smoother sailing during this already bumpy ride. Try to save a few bucks by getting an inexperienced attorney, and you’ll pay for it in other ways – usually ways than cut closer to the bone in the long run!
2. Engage in your children’s lives
Claiming that you’re a loving involved parent only goes so far when you’re too busy to attend any of their soccer games, or couldn’t be bothered to show up for their parent teacher conferences. If you want the Judge to believe that you really are a parent who loves your children and wants to be an active participant in their lives, you need to live that reality. Spend time with your kids. Prioritize their after school activities. Catch up on all the details of their personal lives. Know them as people. It will make a big difference (both to your kids, and to the Judge!)
3. Maintain a civil relationship with your spouse
You and your spouse may be calling it quits, but if you have children in common you need to keep it civil between you. Yes, we know – this can be very hard, especially if the relationship at this point is only three steps removed from a full blown dog fight. But you can’t let it get out of hand. Don’t yell at them, threaten them, intentionally undermine their efforts to be with the kids, or trash talk them to your children. Hostile as things may be right now, lashing out will only make this entire process worse.
4. Keep a record of everything
It may sound like busy work, but it’s not. Keeping a journal of every single interaction you have with your spouse (including any pieces of info your kids happen to mention in passing) can be very helpful. Things like your pick up and drop off times, any texts you exchange with them, or phone calls you share, should be recorded. Keep a log of times, dates, and any other relevant details. You never know when a critical piece of info will make a difference to a case.
Custody can be a very tricky issue to iron out!
Join us next time, as we take a look at the remaining items on our list, and how they could affect your chances of getting custody. Until then, if you have questions about child custody, or any other aspect of family law in Michigan, like divorce, separation of property or personal protection orders, call us at 866 766 5245. Our skilled family law attorneys have been helping the families of Michigan for decades, and we can help you too.