Child custody: I am the best parent, how do I convince the judge?
When awarding a custody award, the judge usually chooses between two good people. Both parents genuinely love their son and want to do what is best for him. Each wants to make sure the child has enough to eat, decent clothes to wear, proper medical care, and a good education. How each parent plans to provide these things is what the court will consider when issuing its final order.
Legally, the court cannot award final custody of your children until the waiting or “cooling off” period of your status has passed and the divorce has been granted. However, if the court hears all the facts and finances in an interim hearing, there is no reason for the judge to change his mind from his first ruling. If the court did not take any evidence at the provisional hearing, you will be able to call witnesses and show the judge the appropriate documents at the final hearing. However, if you have already had a full “evidentiary” hearing at the interim level, and the court has already heard your witnesses and viewed your documentation, it is likely that it will rely on your previous order to issue your final decree. In short, it may not be repeated.
Whether or not you have lost your first custody offer, there are steps you can take to strengthen your position at the final hearing. If you don’t get custody, your attitude and behavior may at least result in more liberal visitation with your child. The most important thing you can do for yourself is to follow the court order. If you avoid child support or visitation, the court will have no reason to trust that you can put your children’s needs before your own. If you don’t pay your child support consistently, the court will find that making sure your children have adequate resources to survive is not that important to you. If you don’t show up for visits when you are supposed to, you are telling the court that you are having trouble accommodating your children in your busy schedule. You can see why the judge did not award him the Father of the Year plaque in that case.
If you haven’t presented your evidence to the court before, what you do now could have a big impact on the bottom line. If you don’t live in your marital home, make sure you continue to pay the bills you always paid and make sure your children have what they need. Leaving the other parent unaided when your child is most vulnerable is not the way to show the court that you understand your duties and that you intend to fulfill your obligations to your children.
The best outcome in most custody cases is that the parents agree to care for their children after the divorce. Sometimes negotiation just isn’t possible. If you have good reason to think that you are the best parent and your children are better off with you than they would be with your other parent, then you will need to prove it in court. You will have witnesses and evidence to back you up. However, the best proof of her love for her children is that she will do everything possible to take care of them, even following the judge’s orders.