A child custody dispute can negatively impact your relationship with your child. When your child’s other parent seeks to modify custody, then, you need to be prepared to defend your parenting abilities so that you can effectively block their attempt to restrict your access to your child. But how can you effectively do that?
Protecting yourself in a child custody dispute
First, it’s critical to remember that your child’s best interests are the top priority. Therefore, you’ll want to make your arguments as child focused as possible. Of course, depending on the circumstances, you might need to defend yourself, too. Here are some ways that you might be able to protect your relationship with your child in your child custody modification dispute:
- Highlight your parenting: Your ability to adequately care for your child can be key in your case. After all, the other parent is going to argue that whatever issues you’re facing are detrimentally impacting your parenting. Therefore, showing your skills and history of adequately caring for your child can go a long way.
- Demonstrate your ability to provide appropriate and safe living condition: The housing environment in which your child lives may play a factor in your custody case. So, prepare yourself with photos of your home and documentation that shows stability in your residence.
- Show the court how your physical and mental health is stable: The other parent might present evidence that you’re incapable of appropriately and safely parenting your child because of untreated mental health issues or physical decline. Therefore, they’ll claim that your conditions pose a threat to your child’s well-being. Be prepared to counter these assertions, which may require you to have an expert testify about your diagnosis and prognosis.
- Present evidence to contradict arguments that you’ve engaged in harmful behavior: A lot of custody modifications are based on behavior such as substance abuse or domestic violence. If you’ve been accused of these sorts of acts, then you should look for ways to discredit the other parent’s claims. Witness testimony can be key here, but so can the credibility of the other parent. So, be prepared to address witness credibility in your case.
- If there is evidence that you’ve engaged in problematic behavior, then find ways to minimize its impact: Even if the other parent can show that you’ve engaged in what they portray to be concerning behavior, there may be ways for you to minimize its impact by showing that it has little to no effect on your ability to safely care for or visit with your child. To do so, you’ll probably have to set the record straight as far as the context of the behaviors in question.
- Play offense by presenting evidence that draws into question the appropriateness of the other parent’s proposed plan: The other parent is going to present their custody modification request as if it will solve all problems and provide the best outcome for your child. But that’s probably not the case. The other parent might have their own issues and gaps in parenting skills. If so, then you should be prepared to present evidence on that at your modification hearing.
Are you ready to fight to protect your child?
The court is going to make its decision based on the evidence presented to it. You shouldn’t expect the court to do the right thing on its own. So, as you prepare to enter your child custody dispute, be sure to gather as much evidence as you can to support your position and find ways to present it in a persuasive fashion. Hopefully then you can secure an outcome that protects your child and your relationship with them.