As a divorced or soon-to-be divorced parent, one of your biggest priorities is likely ensuring you have the most time as possible with your child. When drafting a custody agreement, our clients always have the same question, “How much time will I get to spend with my kid?” It’s a great question and one attorneys should keep at the forefront of their minds when advocating for parents. Following are some tips parents can take into consideration when wanting to spend more time with their children during separation and divorce.
Ask for an in-home custody evaluation
You can strengthen your request for more visitation or custody time with an in-home custody evaluation. In Tennessee, the courts will use an independent child custody evaluator to help the judge make a final custody decision. The evaluator is professionally trained to make recommendations in the best interest of the child. A successful in-home evaluation can help you build a strong case on your behalf, proving your parenting skills and your ability to help your child thrive in the home you have provided.
Be a cooperative co-parent
One thing the courts love to see is parents who present a united front. Parents who can work together and communicate – even if they personally don’t get along – create a healthier environment for their children post-divorce. If you are willing to compromise and show good faith while putting together a visitation plan, you are much more likely to get more parenting time with your child.
Create a mutually agreeable plan
The most straightforward way to secure the child custody or visitation time you want is to create your plan along with your co-parent. You can do this as part of your divorce agreement or, if you were never married, as part of a standalone custody plan. Experienced Maryville family law attorneys can assist you with drafting these documents, or help with mediation if you are unable to come to agreement on the terms of the agreement.
Document, document, document
Whenever you’re dealing with legal issues, it’s crucial to document everything. This means every email, every text, or note that shows you’re involved in your child’s life. Many co-parents find it helpful to keep a shared online family calendar – this not only helps with organization, but also keeps you both “honest” about your commitments. Additionally, if your ex is being uncooperative or hostile, ensure you save text messages, voicemails, or note down dates and times when they act combative. Documentation is always key in any type of family law case.
Don’t badmouth your child’s other parent
This is never, ever a good idea. Even if you know your co-parent is saying negative things about you, don’t think about returning the favor. However, you can document anything you know is being said about you and your parenting skills. Remember that actions speak louder than words and resist the urge to badmouth your ex, their significant other, or any other relevant people. Walk away from argumentative behavior. Your children’s mental health are your only priority, and your relationship with their other parent should be none of their concern.
Maximize the time you do have
Ensure you are making the most of the parenting time you have right now. A judge wants to see that you are an engaged and reliable parent, especially if you are requesting to modify your custody plan for more parenting time. This means checking in more than just set times, being prompt for pickup and drop-off, calls and video chats, and other appointments. Make sure you’re not just the “fun” or “weekend” parent, and are always available for your child.
And, while we’re at it…
Four ways to hurt your child custody case
If you’re trying to get more visitation time with your child, ensure you don’t make these mistakes that could negatively affect your case:
- Projecting a poor image on social media. Although places like Facebook and Snapchat feel like a private place to vent to friends and family, these accounts are public and your posts and photos can make their way anywhere. Pictures of you acting irresponsibly, making disparaging statements about your ex, or anything that could cause anyone to construe you might not be a good parent are all bad ideas.
- Refusing to cooperate with your ex. Don’t make the mistake of putting your feelings above the needs of your child. A judge may see a refusal to compromise as you caring more about hurting the other parent than the best interests of your child. Try to stay open-minded.
- Withholding visitation. The court never looks kindly upon withholding visitation from the other parent without a very urgent reason. Unless you cannot wait for a court order (like cases of domestic violence) you should always consult an attorney before breaking a custody schedule.
- Not hiring an experienced Maryville attorney. When it comes to your child, you can’t take any chances. Child custody cases, in addition to being emotionally taxing, are also complex and detailed. You don’t want to miss a single detail when filing paperwork with the court, nor do you want to give up any of the parental rights to which you’re entitled.
Here at Shepherd & Long, P.C., our Maryville child custody attorneys work with parents across East Tennessee to find successful outcomes to their visitation issues. Our priority is the well-being of your child, and our goal is to protect your parental rights. Schedule your free consultation today by calling a member of our caring legal team at 865-982-8060, or we invite you to complete our contact form.