What Actions Can You Take to Improve the Probability of Winning Child Custody in Texas?
Divorces involving children can be incredibly stressful and heart-wrenching for parents. Unless you can reach a parenting agreement with your former spouse, your case will likely be decided by a judge following court hearings. Whether you are seeking joint or sole physical or legal conservatorship, obtaining your desired outcome in a child custody battle requires careful planning by you and your legal team. An experienced Texas child custody lawyer can outline five key steps you can take right now that may help set you up for success in your custody case.
Make Your Child Your Main Focus
Custody fights can cause significant upheaval for you and your child. It is crucial for you to be there for your children both emotionally and physically during this challenging time. The judge in your custody case will base their ruling on what they believe is in the child’s best interests. Maintaining a close bond with your child is important if you wish to win custody. You can show that you are focused on your role as a parent by being an active, supportive presence in their life.
The court can also sometimes consider the child’s wishes as part of their determination. If the breakup with your child’s other parent has damaged your parent-child relationship, it may be necessary to take steps to repair it, such as family counseling or therapy. However, do not attempt to coach your child into making any statements in favor of you or against the other parent.
Be cautious with new romantic relationships and avoid introducing a new partner to your children until your custody case is resolved. If your custody fight is part of a divorce, the court generally does not approve of new romances and many judges believe exposing a child to new relationships can be emotionally harmful and confusing. You also do not want to be accused of neglecting your child’s needs in favor of pursuing a new partner.
Keep Detailed Documentation
Records play a crucial role in child custody proceedings. Without thorough recordkeeping, a case can quickly devolve into a “he said, she said” argument that can portray both parents in a poor light. Documenting daily interactions with your children, such as providing transportation, attending activities, organizing outings, and handling other parenting responsibilities, can support your claims that you are a capable parent. You should also note instances where the other parent was late, canceled planned activities, or was unreliable or inflexible. Keep relevant texts, emails, and voice messages in a secure location so they are available if needed.
Having concrete examples of both parents’ involvement paints a clearer picture of their parenting styles and the effect they may have on their children’s lives. Documentation also protects you against false allegations from the other parent. If you are being subjected to unfounded accusations from your ex about the environment you are providing for your child, you may choose to request an in-home evaluation by a court-appointed evaluator. By asking for an evaluation before it is required, you are showing initiative and allowing yourself to prepare for a successful assessment.
Be a Responsible Parent
Judges in child custody proceedings will look closely at the parenting skills, lifestyle, and living situations of each parent when making their ruling. You should ensure you provide your child with the most nurturing, secure, and welcoming environment possible.
It is essential to avoid providing any fuel for allegations that you are an irresponsible or unfit parent. Examples of actions that could be detrimental to your custody battle include, but are not limited to:
- Reckless or illegal behavior
- Excessive drinking or drinking in the presence of your children
- Recreational drug use
- Having a history of domestic violence or excessive disciplinary force
- Allowing your children to engage in activities that are inappropriate for their age
- Leaving your children unsupervised
- Failing to implement or enforce suitable rules and consequences for a child’s improper actions
- Not fulfilling your parental duties to provide adequate food, shelter, or clothing
- Posting questionable photos or content to a social media account
Attempt to Find Common Ground With the Other Parent
Ideally, both parents or their lawyers will work together to create a parenting plan that is in their child’s best interests. A negotiated agreement is often more beneficial than a court-ordered arrangement. Unfortunately, this type of cooperation may prove impossible, depending on the nature of the case. However, it is vital to always take the high road when dealing with your ex regarding your children. The court takes a dim view of parents who bad-mouth the other parent in front of their children or attempt to disrupt the parent-child relationship in any way.
If court proceedings become necessary, never underestimate the power of a good impression. Maintaining respectful, professional, and calm communication, even in the face of outrageous behavior, can demonstrate to the court that you are a responsible parent who is attempting to do what is best for your child. Coupled with evidence that you tried to find workable parenting solutions with your ex, your actions can create a favorable perception of your intentions.
Create a Plan for Custody
Hoping for the best during custody proceedings is not enough. You should be proactive and create a detailed parenting plan that outlines your ideal outcome.
Showing the court exactly how you will provide exceptional care for your child is much more impactful than simply saying you would be the best choice. Your lawyer can help you draft a thorough parenting plan that can be submitted to the court as part of your case.
How Can an Experienced Lawyer Assist With Your Child Custody Case?
While you are trying to be strong and supportive for your child during this tumultuous time, it’s crucial to have a compassionate advocate on your side who can guide you through the often difficult process of obtaining custody. Our skilled legal team at the Law Offices of S. Dylan Pearcy will assist you with every aspect of the custody process and aid you in avoiding common pitfalls that may harm your case. We may be able to help you negotiate an out-of-court parenting agreement and will vigorously represent your interests in court if necessary. Contact our San Antonio law firm today at 210-953-7486 to schedule a free case evaluation and learn how we can put our knowledge to work for you.