Abstract Family


Child Custody Advice

Protection and parenting for children of divorce

three children

"Divorce is not healthy for children, or other living things." -- Diane Sollee, smartmarriages.com

Note: I am not a lawyer. This discussion is just to give some ideas and hould not be considered as a replacement for professional legal advice.

Realistic goals for child custody
Your actions during the divorce must always be unemotional and based on logic and realistic goals. Your immediate purpose is to take care of your kids as best you can, not to get revenge against your ex (not even if you call it "justice"), nor to fight against the divorce industry. Remember that the courts don't know your kids and are not genuinely concerned about protecting children, since after all kids don't pay taxes nor do they pay the lawyers. Your spouse who caused the divorce is also not fully concerned about the kids if he or she initiated a divorce with full knowledge of the harm which it would cause to the children. The only hope for good futures for the children lies with responsible parents. But normally it won't be possible to get an ideal solution (such as full custody to yourself if you are a much better parent) but rather it must be something that the divorcing parent and the courts will accept. This is the time for compromise.

Likewise, the other divorce settlements such as child support payments, spousal support (alimony), and property divisions need to be done as compromise, even if your spouse was 100% wrong in filing the divorce.

Avoid putting statements in writing and don't do e-mails
If you can talk reasonably to your ex during the time of divorce proceedings, that is great. It will save money on lawyers. But keep the communications with your ex only verbal, not in writing or via e-mails, if it is anything which might conceivably have a bearing on custody or other divorce issues. Written e-mails to your ex could be used against you or taken out of context by your ex's lawyer.

What to say to mediators, conciliators, and judges to win partial-primary custody
Your honor, my spouse is a great parent who truly loves his/her children. We have always cooperated very closely in our parenting and were a great family, though sometimes we had small differences of opinion about adultery. But I am an even better parent than my spouse, and it is in the best interests of my children that they spend the majority of their time with me. Here are some of the reasons:

(adjust for your situation, delete ones which aren't applicable):

  1. I am the person who usually fixes meals for kids, helps them with their schoolwork, and gets them to bed at night and to school in the morning.
  2. I am closely involved with their school, serving on the PTA, etc.
  3. I am involved with their religious education and teach Sunday school
  4. Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts
  5. Taking them to doctors and medical insurance
  6. Children's sports and recreational activities
  7. I am living in the marital home and the children want to spend more time in this home where they have always lived
  8. The extended family will be more involved if I have primary custody
  9. I will provide a free and open environment for their other parent, extended family, and friends to visit
  10. Shorter working hours than the other parent; and/or less commuting

But don't trash the other parent (either in court or in front of the kids). That usually backfires. Courts like parents who seem agreeable and positive. Positive remarks will be unexpected and will throw your spouse's lawyer a curve. Don't mention adultery; most family court officials don't think that adultery is wrong and might even think that your spouse's infidelity makes him/her a better parent because of having a partner. Also don't make any remarks which criticize the divorce industry in any way; the judge and perhaps even your own lawyer might take it as personal criticism.