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How you present yourself in court affects child custody

During a divorce, emotions often run high. You have much at stake when it comes to the outcome, especially if you have children. You may have tried to work out your child custody with your future former spouse without going to court, but the negotiations didn't go well.

Now, you face going to court in order to resolve the issue. How you present yourself in court will make a difference. Yes, you should dress appropriately and have your documentation together, but there is more to it than that. The court needs to see that you will put the interests of your children ahead of your own.

Avoid these mistakes

Your frustration, stress and anger could leech into the courtroom, and those emotions could cause you to make a critical mistake in your presentation. No matter how you feel about your soon-to-be ex-spouse, you need to remember that you love your children and want what's best for them. You will need to avoid the following behaviors outside the courtroom:

  • If you pay child support, don't intentionally withhold it. That money is not for your ex-spouse, but rather, it's for your children.
  • Don't unreasonably limit your children's contact with the other parent when they are with you. Your children need to know that you value their relationship with the other parent and want them to remain in contact even when apart -- within reason, of course.
  • Don't keep the other parent from having time with the children. Judges have heard it all, and they will know whether you are keeping your children from him or her.
  • Unless the other parent is abusive in some way, or suffers from an addiction, courts don't appreciate characterizing the other parent as "bad." Instead, you should focus on your good points as a parent.

Your relationship with your spouse is ending, but your relationship with the father or mother of your children will never end. The actions you take before, during and after your custody hearing affect how that relationship begins. Putting aside your emotions for the sake of your children is just the start. You and your ex may never be friends, but you can be good parents to the children you both love.

Even as you focus on what is best for your children, you still need to protect your rights. Working with a family law attorney can help make that happen as he or she helps you obtain the best resolution possible for your children and you.

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