Some of the best advice for winning in child custody is to be prepared when you go to court or mediation. But how can a divorced parent get ready? What are the things they can do to be prepared? Whether you're going to court soon, going to mediation, or just meeting with your former spouse, here are three things you can do to prepare. Then, you can feel confident that your preparation will pay off and you will come out a winner in your custody situation.
1. Create your custody and visitation schedule. You need to be prepared with a custody and visitation schedule before any meetings. This means that you need to sit down and hammer out the details. Actually set up the rotating schedule you want (alternating weeks, weekends, etc) and make a calendar for at least a year. Then you want to go through and add in your holiday schedule. Give equal number of big and little holidays to both parents. Then add in vacation time and any special or one time events that will change the basic schedule. Putting all of this in a calendar is time consuming (you may want to look into buying a custody software program that allows you to easily make a calendar--it's nice because you can make several custody calendar options too) but it is worth it. It's nice to be able to see the time all laid out and to know how it will work. This will help your former spouse accept the agreement and also make it easier to change.
2. Come with options for your schedule and be flexible. Even though you have to put in many hours to create your schedule, don't be rigid and uncompromising with it. Have different options. You may want to even create different calendar options that are acceptable to you. This is especially helpful if you are meeting your ex or going to mediation. The more material you have to work with, the more likely it is that the parents can agree on a schedule. If you are able to agree it is much easier to come out a winner--because you already know that the court will accept your agreement. If you can't agree with your ex then the court has the final say in your agreement, and you may not like it.
3. Think of additional items and write them down. If you are meeting your ex or going to mediation, you need to be prepared to discuss any important issues about your custody situation. Sit down and write a list of important things. And, think of any provisions or stipulations you want added to your agreement. You'll want to discuss those with your ex as well. Perhaps you'd like an itinerary when the other parent takes the child on vacation--you can add that as a provision. Or maybe you want a stipulation that says the parents will discuss any extra curricular events their children are involved in. If you are going to court, make a list of these provisions for the court to look over. Since you have obviously spend time and energy creating these--and if they are in the child's best interest--the court will most likely adopt them.
An old saying goes that if you are prepared then you don't have to fear. This is especially true when working through a custody situation. If you are prepared with your custody and visitation schedule, you are flexible with that schedule, and you think of anything else you want in your agreement, you should win in your custody situation.