As a loving, involved parent, there is nothing more terrifying than the thought of losing custody of your child. If you are a parent getting divorced in California, prepare for your child custody case, so you’re ready for court.
Preparing for a California Child Custody Case:
1. Keep a Journal – Lawyers and judges look to records and documents whenever possible. Keep a journal of activities you spend time doing with your children. Note in the journal when the events take place, the time spent, the time the other parent spends, the times the other parent goes to work, arrives home, travels out of town, and record any negative behavior on the part of the other parent (including negative remarks). It is also essential to keep a record of child support payments paid or received.
2. Have a Good Job & a Good Home Environment – Parents involved in a child custody case should try to show that they are an excellent caretaker and can provide sufficiently for their children. Be prepared to show that you have a stable, sustainable job and a suitable, comfortable home for the children. Avoid dangerous items in the house (i.e., guns, etc.) or keep them locked away.
3. Show You Are Engaged With Your Children – Seek to be engaged in your child’s life and be able to point to a pattern of supportive behavior. Spend time with your children, make a habit of being on time, and don’t miss appointments involving the children. Take them to school activities, sporting events, dance classes, after school activities, etc. and make sure to get them there and pick them up on time. Be available, responsible, and flexible. If your child is sick at school, be available to pick them up.
4. Examine Your Inner Circle – When you are involved in a child custody battle, the other party’s attorney will consider your close family, friends, and acquaintances. Look at the people you surround yourself with and make sure they reflect the standard and values that you want around your children. Consider what sort of impact they may have on your children. Avoid close interactions with felons, anyone who is involved in dealing drugs, anyone with sexual offenses on their record, etc.
5. Drive Responsibly – The judge will decide custody on what is in the best interests of the child. They
want parents to keep their child safe. Make sure that you exhibit safe driving and require your child to wear a seat belt when in the vehicle with you. Observe traffic laws. A negative driving record will not strengthen your case when seeking child custody.
6. Demonstrate Good Character – Demonstrate overall sound character and attempt to get familiar with the people in your child’s life: teachers, coaches, PTA parent, etc. Don’t talk badly about or fight with your ex in public or in front of the children.
7. Talk to Your Attorney About Potential Third-Party Evaluations – California judges often order a child custody evaluation as part of child custody proceedings. Either party can request the custody evaluation. Working with an experienced divorce attorney can help you understand what to expect during a third party evaluation where the parenting practices and mental health of one or both parents is considered.
If you are worried about losing custody of your child during your divorce, please get in touch with one of the experienced California divorce attorneys at The Maggio Law Firm today.