Your goal for your divorce was to make the process as painless and stress-free as possible, not only for the sake of your children, but for your own peace of mind. Knowing that you and your former spouse will have years of co-parenting to endure, you wanted to keep your relationship as civil as you could, especially when it came to making custody plans.
If your spouse is unwilling to negotiate or use methods of alternative dispute resolution to resolve your custody issues, you may find yourself facing the unthinkable task of having to persuade a judge that you are a fit parent. There are some steps you can take to improve your chances of presenting a positive image.
Helping your own cause
Since no judge has a complete picture of your family dynamic, it is often the case that family courts must make crucial decisions based on what they observe. As frustrating as the idea may be, you have a limited opportunity to present yourself as a competent, caring and devoted parent, perhaps even as someone who is superior to your partner as a parent. Your attempts to resolve matters without going to court may be one example of that, so you will want to provide evidence of your efforts.
Some other ways to be proactive include the following:
- Ask the court to conduct an in-home evaluation so you can demonstrate your fitness to an unbiased party.
- Spend as much time with your children as possible, and avoid missing or changing any scheduled parenting times.
- Gather copious documentation of your parental fitness as well as any negative or harmful interactions you witness between your spouse and the children.
- Refrain from bad-mouthing your spouse to the children, venting to them about your frustrations over the divorce or making false allegations about their other parent.
- Keep guard over your behavior, including the use of alcohol or drugs, public meltdowns, or reckless actions.
- Follow through on anything the court requests, such as counseling or parenting classes.
- Present your best self to the court, including careful grooming, clean and appropriate clothes, and a calm, controlled demeanor.
If your spouse is challenging your right to equitable custody, you want to have every possible advantage. This includes learning as much as you can about the custody laws in Colorado and obtaining the support of a skilled family law attorney.