Custody and Visitation Battles - What's Best For the Child
The Child's Best Interest is the Number One Priority
First and foremost the most important consideration in a custody dispute is "what is best for the child." This is the primary concern of the court and should be the only concern of the parents. The courts in most states have determined that it is in the best interest of the child to have contact with both parents on a continuous basis. In a custody battle, the parent who seeks to give the child regular contact with the other parent, is much more likely to become the custodial parent, than the parent who seeks to keep the child away from the other parent or have complete control over the situation.
Child Custody Mediation
If the parents are unable to agree on custody and a schedule of visitation, then they are sent to mediation. During mediation both parents meet with a third party, unusually a social worker or lawyer. During mediation facts relevant to the child's welfare are discussed. Usually, an agreement can be reached and it is sent to the court as a Stipulation for Issuance as a court order.
In the cases where an agreement cannot be met, the parents may pursue litigation for the unresolved issues, and a court hearing is held. During the hearing evidence is presented and expert witnesses, such as psychologists or social workers may be called in. After hearing the case, the judge may then make a ruling on the custody of the child and a visitation schedule is determined.
Unresolved custody issues that go all the way to litigation can be costly and time consuming, and take an emotional toll on the family. It is in the best interest of all concerned to come to an agreement before it goes this far.
Changes in the Visitation Order in Custody Cases
Once a custody order has been put into effect it can be modified to fit the changing needs of the family. Change in a job, schooling needs, relocation and many other factors may determine the need for change in the order. Parents can agree to make necessary changes without taking it to court. But it is advisable to put the changes in writing, making them easier to enforce if it becomes necessary. In cases where the parents are likely to stray from the changes, or be inconsistent in following them, the orders should be changed in court. This gives both parents a legal document to fall back on if needed.
Provide a Stable Environment During a Custody Battle
If you find yourself facing a custody battle, there are ways to show the court that you have the best interest of your child in mind and that you are doing everything you can to provide a safe and stable home for him.
Number one on this list of things to do is to find stability in your life. Make sure you are able to provide a living environment that is safe, stable and adequate for the child or children. If the child is in school, keep them in the same school district with friends and teachers they have grown to know and love. If you need to work, as we all do, try to find a job that works around the child's schedule. Work while they are in school if possible, so you are free to spend time with them when they come home. If a new relationship develops, avoid cohabitation too early in the relationship. This can be confusing to the child. Especially if the relationship falls apart. The child should be left out of the custody battle at all costs. His needs should be put above those of the opposing parent's needs. Keep the other parents desires in mind and try to facilitate them whenever possible.
- General Child Custody Questions - Child Custody @ Free Advice
- Child Support, Child Custody, Visitation & Children in Divorce Free Law Resources Nolo
Free legal information on child custody, child support, visitation rights, parenting agreements, and helping children during divorce.
Cornell University Law School. An overview of child custody laws.