The first and most important step to getting custody of your children is to be a great parent and to be honest. Being a great parent is not always the easiest task during divorce, but it is important to acknowledge each and every action concerning the divorce and how it may or may not affect the children.
You and your spouse should try to amicably decide the custody arrangements of the children and what the parenting time schedule should be without the help of the court. If you spend the time discussing these issues with the children's best interest in mind, hopefully you will be able to arrive at a custody arrangement that is superior to that which a court would impose on you.
If you are in a situation where an agreement may not or cannot be made, be prepared to let the court decide. You will hear this time and time again... "when the court decides, you bring in the element of surprise."
When you are in a custody dispute and the court is going to decide what the custody arrangement will be there are a few principles they use for the basis of the decision. You need to take a look at these principles and evaluate your relative position and determine your strengths and weaknesses as a custodial parent and those of the other parent.
The following are the significant principles that the court may consider in a child custody dispute. Please keep in mind that all situations are unique and often the court will make interpretations of all or some of the principles based on evidence and the burden of proof.
The above principles are stated to give you an overall idea of things that will influence custody decisions. There are many more issues that are addressed in court that will aid in making the decision that is in the "best interest of the children." Always keep the children out of your discussions. Put another way, keep the children "in the center" of your lives, but not "in the middle" between the parents.
Rosanne DeTorres, co-founder of DeTorres & DeGeorge, LLC, is NJ Supreme Court certified as a Matrimonial Law Attorney. Choosing a Certified Matrimonial Law Attorney assures you the most effective representation. Ms. DeTorres concentrates her family law practice on divorce, custody, child support and alimony.