Child custody cases have become much more scrutinized by the courts in recent years. What used to be an easy win for the mother or primary bread winner has turned into to an intense deliberation process with no certain outcome. Because of this, it has become important for parents to put a focus on preparation before their custody hearing. Here are some basic steps to get started in the right direction.
Choose the Right Lawyer
Experienced legal counsel is the most important investment you will make with your child custody case, so donít just open the phone book and call the biggest ad. Find a lawyer who has several references of winning custody cases similar to yours. You should also look for someone who has worked with your judge in the past. Another industry benchmark to look for is a lawyer who is a Certified Family Law Specialist.
Organized Your Financials
Financial stability will play a key role in your case, and thus you should have all of your financial records in good order. Pay stubs, bank statements, and investment reports will likely be required by the courts. By having this information at hand you will present yourself as an organized and viable candidate for custody consideration.
Track Child Care Costs
The more you know about your childís daily needs, the better you will fare in the legal proceedings. Start a log early in the process and keep track of all relevant costs associated with raising your child. Food, clothing, health care, and child care are just some of the expenses you should be tracking. Not only will this information show your concern for your childís welfare, but it will also be used to determine the amount of your spouseís child support payments.
Clean Up Your History
If you have any skeletons in your closet, then now is the time to get rid of them. Drug use, infidelity, and unemployment are all negatives that could hurt your chances for custody. While there is little you can do about the past, the court always looks favorably on people who are trying to fix their issues. Cleaning up your past should be an immediate priority. You will need to prove to the judge that you are working hard to correct the mistakes you have made in life.
Dig Up Some Dirt
Just as your past can hurt you, your spouseís past can be manipulated to your advantage. While it may seem aggressive to openly expose the secrets of your spouse, it is in the best interest of your children for the judge to know all of the circumstances surrounding your separation. Documentation is the key to substantiating your claims, so make sure you gather proof before making any accusations.
Custody battles are no longer a short war of words with the mother assuming a substantial advantage. The entire hearing process has become more detailed and often incorporates outside mediators to assist the judge. Being prepared and organized will give you the best chance at winning your child custody case.