Custody battles are one of the most difficult experiences of a parent’s life. Arguing why you should be able to spend time with your children is something no parent should suffer, but unfortunately, thousands of parents have to every year. When you find yourself in a child custody case, the most powerful tool you have in your favor is preparation. Knowing what to expect and how to use your resources makes a difference in the amount of visitation time you receive with your kids.
Create a Visitation Plan
When you and your spouse decide on divorce and there are children involved, the first step is to create a visitation plan. Unless the court orders that you don’t have the right to spend time with your child, you can create a plan for reasonable visitation. The courts will only deny visitation if a parent is abusive, violent, or addicted to alcohol or drugs. The visitation plan maps out the amount of visitation you and your spouse decides works best for your children.
If your relationship is amicable—or you’re at least on speaking terms with your ex-spouse—try to work out the plan on your own. Your plan must contain all the information about how you and your spouse will continue to provide for children after the divorce is final. The more detailed your plan is, the more likely the courts will agree to it. You and your spouse must work out the child’s residential schedule, holidays, vacations, and special events. Creating a visitation plan allows you to maximize the parenting time you have with your child.
If you and your spouse can’t work out a visitation plan together, hire a Los Angeles child custody lawyer to create the plan. Either way, creating a plan and including detailed information about the child’s medical and dental care, finances and expenses, parental communication, and education will make the custody process easier on the whole family. It’s your best chance at receiving the custody agreement you desire.
File a Motion to Return to Court
If at any time you need to go back to court after a custody case finished to have the orders changed, you can file a motion. You and your spouse can try to resolve the issue together and avoid going to court by submitting a Stipulation and Order instead. If not, you can submit a written request to the courts telling the judge what you want changed and why. When a judge grants this request, both parties have to return to court. A judge won’t change court orders lightly but may oblige if you can prove changing custody is in the child’s best interest.
Appeal a Court Order
Once the courts decide on a visitation schedule for you and your spouse, it’s possible to appeal the order if you aren’t happy with the amount of visitation time the court granted you. An appeal is a request to have a higher court reverse or change your local court’s judgment. The appeals court will look at the evidence you presented at trial and decide if the court should have made a different decision. Appeals can be lengthy and complicated—always hire a skilled family law attorney before filing to appeal a court custody order.
Prove Your Worth
The most important thing to remember during a custody battle is what’s best for your child. The judge will base decisions on what’s in the child’s best interest. For your best chance of receiving more visitation time with your child, obey court orders, be an upstanding citizen, work to resolve disputes with your ex-spouse, never miss a child support payment, and always act in a way that will prove you’re capable of taking care of your children.