Always follow the court order. If there is a court order regarding custody and/or visitation, then you must follow that order, even when the other parent is not. It is never wise to disregard the Judge’s order; they are the ones that make the ultimate decision regarding custody and/or visitation in child custody cases.
Be flexible when co-parenting with the other parent. The key issue in determining child custody cases is which parent is more likely to foster a meaningful relationship with the other parent. Make sure that you have done everything to insure the other parent gets meaningful time with the child. This flexibility is often hard, but if pays big dividends during a child custody hearing.
Never turn down time with your child. Always, make your child your first priority, even when the other parent is not pulling their fair share of the weight, always accept time that the other parent is willing to forfeit. Not only will it increase your bond with your child, it often makes excellent evidence in a child custody case.
Support your child not only emotionally, but financially as well. Pay what you or your attorney believes would be a fair amount of support when your child is not living with you the majority of the time. Remember, before the divorce, you paid for your child and you shouldn’t stop now. If the other parent is disregarding the court order or laws, don’t stop paying child support, let the judge deal with it. Two wrongs don’t make a right.
Keep a detailed calendar and/or record of events as they relate to visitation; any relevant events and problems you may be having with your former partner. By the time a trial is set, sometimes memories fade, this will be a good way to refresh your memory before trial and it’s an easy way to keep your lawyer informed on the day-to-day activities.
Be involved in all facets of your child’s life. Talk with your child’s teachers, coaches, and doctors, and/or anyone else that is in your child’s life. Often these individuals make great witnesses and it cannot hurt your case, if they believe that you are a good and attentive parent active in your child’s life. Also, these individuals may notice difference in your child caused by the divorce or your child may confide in them
Your child only has one mother and one father. Never let or encourage your child to call a new partner mom or dad. This is not only confusing the child, but shows that you do not respect the other parent and their relationship with the child.
Never disparage the other parent in front of your child. Even if you are angry with the other parent, never say anything bad about the other parent to your child or in front of your child, or let any one else disparage the other parent in the presence of your child. This includes posting things on social media sights that your child has access to. Remember you may be divorced, but that is your child’s parent too. Your child can internalize these comments as they are as much a part of the other parent as they are a part of you.
Do not make unilateral decisions regarding your child. Even though you are divorced, you must make sure you include the other parent in making decisions that pertain to the child. Decisions need to be made jointly in most cases. If you cannot agree, then perhaps counseling on the parenting issue could be beneficial. However, if an agreement can’t be reached take the matter before the judge, but never just disregard the other parent.
Make these decisions because they are the right things to do, not just because they will benefit you in court. While winning your case and the most amount of time with your child as possible is important, it can never be as important as being a good and loving parent to your child. Remember they had no voice in the divorce and probably would not have chosen this; you must protect and love them during this difficult time, it’s the most important thing you can do for them.