How to Behave in Custody Battles

By Jennifer Williams

The end of a marriage is difficult, but the idea of losing custody of your children is terrifying. A judge's only concern in deciding custody is your child's best interest. Parent behavior during a custody battle can influence the judge as he decides which residential placement meets that criteria. Knowing a judge's criteria in terms of your behavior can better help you demonstrate that your child's best interest lies with you.

The end of a marriage is difficult, but the idea of losing custody of your children is terrifying. A judge's only concern in deciding custody is your child's best interest. Parent behavior during a custody battle can influence the judge as he decides which residential placement meets that criteria. Knowing a judge's criteria in terms of your behavior can better help you demonstrate that your child's best interest lies with you.

Actions and Speech

The things you do and say around your children and your spouse during the custody battle can quickly become evidence against you. Courts consider it in the children's best interest to grant custody to a stable, loving parent. An angry or emotional exchange with your spouse or children, or a thoughtless physical expression of frustration, can be used to color the judge's perception of your character. Any such actions also could create a negative picture of your home environment. In this way, emotional and angry outbursts may reduce your chances of winning custody.

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Parental Alienation

Courts have consistently held that the children's best interest is served by granting custody to the parent least likely to alienate them from the other parent. One parent actively seeking to turn the children against the other in a custody fight is called parental alienation. When parental alienation is at work in a custody battle, judges often grant custody to the parent who doesn't engage in such behavior.

Caregiver Role

Judges also consider which parent has been the children's primary caregiver, with the focus on preserving this arrangement and maintaining continuity. Being especially mindful of your children's needs and taking an active role in their well-being during the custody battle indicates best interest. This is behavior that judges notice and that can work in your favor in securing the right to continue as the primary caregiver.

Obeying Court Orders

It is not uncommon for a judge to put temporary orders in place governing residential custody, visitation and child support early in the divorce-custody process. These orders reflect what the court feels is in the children's best interest during the pending divorce case, and following them to the letter indicates a willingness to do what's best for the children. When a parent given residential custody allows the other parent visitation, it indicates that the residential parent won't alienate the other. When a noncustodial parent visits his children as scheduled, it indicates his desire to give them the time and attention they need to maintain their relationship. Paying child support on time shows the paying parent's willingness to provide for the children.

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Custody Laws in Kentucky

References

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Tenessee Custody Laws

Because child custody disputes often become contentious and emotionally charged, Tennessee has established specific laws governing the adjudication of these disputes. Judges treat each family as an individual unit and attempt to discern the best custody arrangement for each child. However, these arrangements are governed by state law and cannot be based on a judge's whims or prejudices.

How to Prepare for a Custody Evaluation

If you and your spouse are contesting custody as part of your divorce, and the judge has decided that a custody evaluation is in order, you need to prepare yourself for a bit of a process. The evaluation is intended to help the judge determine the custody arrangement that is best for your children. These evaluations typically take several months and during that time, you'll probably lose sleep worrying about the outcome. It often helps to know what to expect, steps you can take to help move the process along and missteps to avoid.

Custody & Addiction

A parent's substance abuse can have extremely negative consequences for children and family courts around the U.S. recognize this. Many states have a rebuttable presumption that it is not in a child's best interests to reside with an addicted parent. A rebuttable presumption is one in which an accused parent can rebut an assertion of substance abuse by explaining the addiction is in the past, does not affect the child or does not exist. The parent struggling with addiction must prove they can provide a safe home for the child and if they cannot, may be denied custody and visitation. If either you or your ex struggles with addiction, obtaining treatment is the first step toward establishing a healthier environment for your children.

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