Figuring out how to gain custody of your child is not an easy task. Furthermore, there is no ‘one size fits all’ plan for determining if you’ll even be able to get full custody. But, there are definitely some things you can do that will help your cause.
First off, you can’t be doing this simply because it’s something that you want to do. It is absolutely mandatory that your goal be to look out for what is in the best interests of the children – spite, hatred, and jealousy will get you nowhere. You’ll be figured out before you even get going. The reasons you are doing this is a genuine concern for the well-being of the kids. If that is not the case, then you should save your time and money because the judges, lawyers, evaluators, and the plethora of other people you’ll be in contact with will see right through your ploy.
Secondly, you will need to be prepared. If you are not already the primary caregiver of the children, it means you’ll have to work even harder. The reason for this is that the court system will hesitate to take the kids out of their current primary residence in order to take a chance living with you. You need to be able to prove, without a doubt, that they will be better off with you.
Preparation and Planning
In preparing for this type of event, it is best if you are able to spend a long while gathering information. Information on what the other person has done that can be held against them. Unfortunately, your goal is to make them look bad. But, ideally they will be making themselves look bad and you are simply there to point it out to the people that need to know. This also means that you better be living your life in the ‘straight and narrow’. There are no evenings at the bar or nightclub. No slip-ups with the authorities. If there is anything that will make the judge question their decision to give you custody, your chances will drop drastically.
So, to get full custody you want a nice long list of everything that you have observed. Keep track of anything and everything that you think might have even a remote impact. Keep a log that, at bare minimum, keeps the date and a synopsis of what transpired. It is even helpful to document things that other people told you – your lawyer will be the one to determine if it will be admissible in court, or if that person needs to be called as a witness.
You are going to want to also keep track of all the times that you spend with your child. It might be helpful to keep a quick note of what you did together. The court is going to be looking for things that show that you have a meaningful relationship, and it is your job to show them that. Keep in mind that the other person is going to be trying their hardest to tear you down at the same time.
What to Expect
Once you feel that the other parent has crossed the line, or you feel your children are in eminent danger, it is then time to talk to an attorney. It pays to seek out an attorney that has some experience. Ask around, in most cities there are a few names that are brought up consistently. Go to the best one you can afford.
Once you have your attorney, you will be asked to write up your affidavit. If you kept appropriate logs, it should be fairly easy to write up an affidavit that is extremely high in detail and long. This is not a bad thing. Your attorney might have instructions for you on how they want it written or formatted, but many simply want a timeline of what has led to you trying to figure out how to get full custody. All you need to do is get your documentation in front of you, start at the top, and start elaborating on all of the notes you took. Make sure you enamor in there on why you think each thing is not good for the child. Your lawyer should proofread the document and offer advice, so it doesn’t need to be perfect the first go around.
Once completed, the affidavit is filed with the court and a copy is served to the other parent. What follows will likely be a smattering of evaluations, questions, not to mention a definite hostility from the other parent.
Dealing with the Other Parent
If you get met with any kind of adverse behavior from the other parent, it is absolutely essential that you keep your cool. Emotions are running extremely high at this point and it can be difficult not to attack back or antagonize them. DO NOT DO IT! The court needs to see that you can control yourself. You’re the stable one, the one that can keep your cool. Let the other person make themselves look bad and don’t play into it. What you can do is document it. If you get letters, emails, or text messages – SAVE THEM! Anytime that you need to come into contact with the other parent, use a voice recorder. It might not be admissible in court, but your lawyer will be able to advise you to this. (Note: a lot of states are ‘two party notification’ states with regards to recording. Meaning, that you need to tell them that you’re doing recording them. Use your best judgment in this case – but, it probably won’t fly with that person).
When figuring out how to win full custody of your child, don’t forget to include the monetary costs that you will no doubt incur. It is going to cost a lot of money. You will need to pay your attorney, along with any evaluations that are done. This will likely run into the thousands of dollars very quickly.
Money isn’t the issue -you can always make more of it – your children always come first. But, it would be highly unfortunate if you ran out of it while you were in the middle of proceeding with this. If you have to sell everything you own to make it financially through, then do it.
The question of how to get full custody of your child can’t be answered in one simple article on the internet – it is much too broad of an answer. But, hopefully this gives you a basis that you can build upon so you can do what you need to do for your kids.
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