Although many couples agree regarding custody of their children when they divorce, there are just as many couples that argue about who should have primary custody of the children and what visitation is appropriate. Even if you believe your spouse will agree with you regarding custody, it is wise to make a few preparations in case things do not proceed as you anticipate.
In preparing for a potential custody battle keep in mind there are several key factors that will affect the court’s determination of which parent will get primary custody of the children. Among those factors are: which parent has been the primary caretaker for the children during the marriage; which parent is better able to manage the daily needs of the children; which parent is better equipped to handle any special medical or educational needs of the children; and does either parent have any bad habits to which the children should not be exposed (such as drug or alcohol abuse, physical abuse or other inappropriate behavior).
The following is a list of steps to prepare yourself in the event your divorce evolves into a dispute over custody:
- Use a calendar to track the amount of time that each parent is actively involved in caring for the children.
- Make a list of the children’s activities, including extra-curricular, parent teacher conferences and doctors appointments, and note which parent is providing transportation and actively involved in the activity.
- Compile records regarding any special needs your child may have, including any medical or educational needs and note any special skills or training each parent has to address those needs.
- Gather evidence regarding any wrongdoing by your spouse that could affect his or her ability to be a primary caretaker for your children (a full discussion of this issue will appear in part five of this Preparing for Divorce series)
Most of all, keep in mind that this divorce is between you and your spouse, and your children’s involvement should be absolutely minimal. Everything you do to prepare for and proceed with a divorce should be designed to minimize its impact on your children.
Look for the next installment in this series: Preparing for Divorce – Financial Accounts
Check out the previous installment: Preparing for Divorce