Going through a divorce is never easy, but when you also have children, you don't want to lose precious time with them. Most parents want what's best for their kids, and co-parenting through joint custody can offer stability both in the short and long run. If you're looking for ways to increase your odds of getting joint custody, remember these general rules.
Move to the Same School District
If your children have reached school age or they're close to it, and you're the one moving out, pick a house or apartment within the same school district. This will show the judge that you're committed to making things easier for you and the kids and want to keep the transition as smooth as possible for everyone involved. This is especially true if you're seeking equal time with your children.
Avoid Co-Habitation Too Soon
You may not feel like your personal romantic life has any sway over your relationship with your kids. And while dating someone right after a separation is generally acceptable, you may want to rethink moving in with another partner too soon.
Children need time to adjust to the changes, and expecting them to accept a new person into their lives—and someone they'll have to live with when they're with you, no less—can be upsetting. The other parent will likely try to argue that this behavior shows instability, and it can be confusing and scary for young children.
Take this time to focus on yourself and your kids, and wait until the dust settles and your children have adjusted to the changes before moving in with a love interest.
Make Visitation Easy for the Other Parent
Yes, you read that right. As tough as it may be, in most cases, the courts will actually smile down on and show favoritism to the parent that makes it easy for their kids to see the other parent.
If you refuse to work with your ex when picking dates for visitation, or you do things to discourage your child from seeing or talking with the other parent, this could hurt your case. There are common sense exceptions to this rule, but generally speaking, encouraging a loving, healthy relationship between your spouse and children shows that you have their best interest at heart.
Hire a Family Law Attorney
Trying to win a child custody case without representation might save you some money, but this isn't a road you want to navigate alone.
Hiring an attorney knowledgeable in family law and custody issues shows the court that you're taking the situation seriously. A lawyer will also let you know what to expect when you go to court, and they will tell you what to say and do in order to have a stronger case.
Bottom line, your chances of getting joint custody usually improve when you have a child custody lawyer on your side.