The process of divorce or ending a long-term relationship is messy and emotionally taxing. When there are children involved the emotions can run even higher, and the entire process can get even messier. Every day there are hundreds of stories about messy and long-winded custody battles, but it doesn't have to be that way. If you are currently in the position of trying to figure out how to win a custody battle, we have six, actionable steps, that can make an amicable custody arrangement much easier to come by.
How to Avoid Messy Custody Battles
Step 1: Seek Mediation or come to an Agreement
Not all custody agreements need to get messy and complicated. Many parents can work out a custody agreement without a court actually being involved. If you and your former partner can discuss things calmly, you may not even need a mediator. Simply come up with a custody plan and submit it to the court. Most courts will accept agreements that have been reached by parents. A court-appointed mediator can be helpful to those who are having a difficult time coming to an agreement.
Step 2: Keep it Civil
It is important for you and your former partner to remain civil when it comes to custody and the children. Fighting and arguing rarely brings about useful resolutions to problems and it isn't the way to go about figuring out how to win a custody battle. If you are feeling stressed by the breakdown of the relationship, remember to keep that issue separate from issues pertaining to the children. Seeking out the help a professional therapist to work through the pain and hurt may be a wise decision.
Step 3: Come to an Agreement and Compromise
When trying to figure out how to win a custody battle you might think going in “guns blazing” is the best way to get your preferred agreement in place. This simply is not the case. When you and your former partner sit down to come up with an agreement, be willing to compromise. The process doesn't have to be long and lengthy, in fact, if you can both compromise, you can quickly hash out the agreement and put it into action. The quicker you can sort out the issue, the quicker everyone can settle into a new normal, including your children, your former partner, and yourself.
Step 4: Stick to the Schedule
When you first decide on a custody agreement and a visitation schedule, it is important to stick to the routine. Not only is this best for the child, but it establishes a routine for both you and your former partner. Stability is important during this time, so trying to change the schedule or denying access to the child can create a lot of animosity which can lead to a messy custody battle.
Step 5: Be Flexible
Being flexible is important in parenting, even if you and your former partner are no longer together. As children grow up, their needs and activities will change. Remaining flexible with the custody agreement is important for everyone's well-being, especially the child's.
Step 6: Open the Lines of Communication
To ensure everything stays civil, and your children don't become the messengers in your relationship with their other parent, keep the lines of communication open. Some co-parents find it is easiest to talk over text or even e-mail, others seem to handle phone conversations well. This will be up to you and your co-parent. Be flexible in your choice, and do avoid talking about issues pertaining to the failed relationship. It isn't about your relationship, and it isn't even about figuring out how to win a custody battle, it's about making the transition between homes easy for your child.
While these steps may help you on your journey to figure out how to win a custody battle, remember, speaking to a legal expert who has experience in custody agreements is always a safe bet. A lawyer can help ensure you get the visitation or custody arrangement that best fits your life and your child's needs.
About the Author: This article is a guest contribution submitted by Jennifer Caughey, on behalf of Galbraith Family Law, a divorce lawyer in Barrie, Canada.