It may be unfair, but it’s true: The long hours that you put in building your career so that you can provide for your family can actually be held against you when you’re getting a divorce and trying to get shared or primary physical custody of your children.
Your co-parent may be raising questions like how can you be a properly “involved” parent if you’re always at work? How can you provide for your children’s emotional needs if you aren’t home with them every night? The judge may have some serious doubts about your ability to be a good parent. However, that doesn’t mean you should give up.
Here are some tips that can help you improve the chances of winning the custody you want:
- Understand what the “best interest of the child” means in New York. Family court judges routinely consider a list of factors (although they can consider just about anything relevant) when making decisions about custody. You want to emphasize your strengths as a parent along those lines.
- Have a plan that considers your work schedule. You can bet that the judge will ask you who will be taking care of the children when you’re at the office or traveling. You need to know the answers before you go into court because the judge won’t be impressed with vague reassurances that the children will be cared for properly.
- Document your relationship with the kids. Your spouse may try to claim that you don’t have much of a relationship with the children. You want to anticipate this and build evidence that can demonstrate that you are an involved parent. Make sure that you make time for school functions and demonstrate a willingness to put your children before your career when necessary.
Fighting for fair custody and visitation can be a tremendous drain on your resources. Make certain that you have experienced guidance from the very start from an attorney who understands exactly what you’re up against — and what can be done to help you get the rights you’re seeking.