Figuring out an agreeable custody arrangement can cause the most heated disagreements among divorcing couples. Of course, arguments over marital assets and support can also erupt but typically pale compared to arguing over where a child will live.
Whether you are a mother or father, the most important step to prepare for a New Jersey custody case is to consult with a lawyer who understands the intricacies of state custody laws and can provide you with options to achieve your desired outcome.
Prepping for a New Jersey custody case
First and foremost, try to avoid a “win or lose” mentality regarding custody. Judges focus on the best interests of the child, and so should you. But there are steps you can take to help your case:
- Remain civil: Keeping a cool head is crucial even when you and the other parent have transitioned to a contentious relationship. Remember, you will remain co-parents and need to communicate in raising your child.
- Take notes: Start a journal and track precise details (times, dates, etc.) of the people in your child’s life. Also, document any negative behavior from your ex that could help your case. These details are often crucial to the outcome.
- Stay engaged: Whether you and the other parent seek sole or joint custody, you must remain invested in your child’s life. This means knowing who they hang out with or what’s going on at school as well as in the rest of their lives.
- Don’t vent to your kid: Divorce is a scary and emotional time for children of any age. Don’t make mean or vindictive statements about your ex as kids should never be put in the middle of a marital dispute. They want what’s best for both parents.
Be a model parent and citizen
Finally, make sure you put your best face forward during a custody battle. It might be a good idea to shut down, or at least avoid using your social media account for a while to avoid the urge to air your frustrations about the other parent.
If your dispute goes before a judge, make sure you behave appropriately in court, dress appropriately and treat everyone, even your ex, with respect. An experienced lawyer will help you prepare and manage your expectations before you enter the courtroom.