One of the most common concerns that parents have when facing a divorce or a custody dispute is the idea that they could end up isolated from their children and relegated to occasional weekend visits. The good news for parents is that judges are legally obligated to focus on a child’s best interests. If both parents are fit and able to be actively involved in their children’s lives, it would be rare that a judge would approve very minimal parenting time for one parent over the other in a contested matter.
In most cases, they want to see both parents actively involved with the children once they establish a custody order and parenting plan. Numerous factors, including the current relationship between the parents and the children, will influence what a judge decides will be the best arrangements for the family’s circumstances if parents can’t agree on arrangements via the negotiations process. How can one parent potentially strengthen their position in upcoming custody hearings?
1. Start a parenting relationship journal
Personal documentation can go a long way toward establishing the types of interactions someone regularly has with their children. Parents can keep a journal outlining all of the conversations and disciplinary efforts they engage in with their children to help show that they have begun stepping up more now that their family circumstances have begun to shift.
2. Show up for important meetings and events
From school conferences to dentist appointments, a parent needs to be involved in a child’s day-to-day life. Frequently attending or at least following up on medical appointments, school conferences and other important events for the children will help show that someone wants to do what is best for the children and to make use of their legal custody rights and decision-making authority.
3. Make use of all scheduled parenting time
Many families have a temporary parenting plan or custody order in place from the earliest days of their separation. If a parent wants as much time as possible with their children later, they need to make use of what time they currently have.
Making it to every scheduled parenting session and rescheduling those a parent cannot attend can help show their commitment to their relationship with the children. Additionally, records of the other parent canceling and shortening their sessions could help show that they don’t always put the best interest of the children first.
Typically, a parent would need to cite some kind of major issue, like claims of abuse or addiction, to convince a judge to limit another other fit parent’s access to their children. Creating a paper trail that shows that someone is a concerned and involved parent can potentially help them to assert their position – one way or another – as they prepare for upcoming child custody negotiations or litigation with the assistance of an experienced legal professional.