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Putting your best foot forward in a custody battle

You may already be feeling the pain of separation from your child, whether you are divorcing the child's other parent or have never been married. You may have some visitation rights, or perhaps you have full custody and the other parent is challenging that custody in court.

The odds may be in your favor, or you may be at a decided disadvantage. Nevertheless, you have to make a positive impact during your custody hearing to reach your goal of obtaining custody.

Attention to details

You may be an excellent parent, but the judge only knows what he or she hears in court. Therefore, it is crucial that you prepare for your hearing and arrive ready to defend your rights and fight for the best interests of your child. Some ways you can demonstrate your focus on your child's best interests include:

  • Using your time with your child wisely by including homework, chores and other areas of responsibility
  • Complying with designated visitation schedules if you are under temporary court orders
  • Suggesting an in-home evaluation by a court-appointed evaluator
  • Presenting yourself as the loving and attentive parent you are, for example, refraining from disciplining your child in public
  • Avoid using drugs and alcohol, especially when the child is with you or when you are in public
  • Learning everything you can about child custody laws in New Jersey
  • Refrain from bad-mouthing your ex in front of the child or sharing too many details about the court case
  • Keeping careful notes about any questionable interactions between your ex and the child

Remember that your ex may be keeping the same kind of record of your behavior, so it is important that you remain above reproach.

Seeking guidance

Ironic as it may seem, your willingness to cooperate with the other parent may be a deciding factor in whether the court rules in your favor. Family courts in New Jersey strive to provide children with as much access to both parents as possible when both parents are fit and no danger to the children. Your generous spirit of collaboration may impress the judge that you are truly looking out for your child's best interests by your willingness to co-parent.

However, you may have questions about how to balance your cooperative spirit with your goals of winning custody. For these and other questions, you would be wise to seek the assistance of a legal professional who can guide you throughout the process.

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