Nothing is more important than the well-being of your children. During a divorce proceeding, custody issues can quickly arise. Even if you want your ex-spouse to take the kids the majority of the time, you still need to protect your rights. You need to set the rules of custody out and explain your intent. You need to show that you want to be a part of your kids' lives. Here are a few things you can do to help protect your rights as a parent.
Know what you can about joint custody.
Start researching joint custody laws for your state and how they work. Each state is a little different, so you need to arrive to your first hearing with some knowledge under your belt. This will help you make sure that you are getting the time you are entitled to. The state laws, for example, may limit your time with your children if you are moving out-of-state or incarcerated. In most cases, the parents themselves find and maintain an agreeable schedule. Just make sure you set out what you want in advance.
Think about what might happen if the other party leaves the state.
Moving out-of-state can change the way custody works. For example, if one parent is living on the other side of the country, visiting the child every weekend probably isn't an option. Schedules in this case could include the child spending the school year with one parent and the summers with another. It could cause some trouble with planning holidays, as your child won't be able to have two Christmas dinners in one night if one parent is a five-hour plane ride away. Think about these factors and other what-if scenarios when stating what you want.
Contact witnesses to testify for you.
Even if you and your ex-spouse are on great terms, things can change in the courtroom. People change their minds or try to throw the other person off by suddenly questioning their abilities as a parent. Because of this, you need to have a few contacts who can testify on your behalf. These reputable witnesses help you build a case and make it more likely that you will get what you want.
Custody is a complex legal issue and there are many things you need to consider before going to court. Start researching joint custody laws in your state as soon as possible and start preparing yourself for the stand. Contact a lawyer who specializes in family law for more information.