When a couple gets married and has children, their relationship is taken to a whole new level. Not only do the spouses have a tie to one another through marriage, but they are also given parental rights and additional responsibilities when they have children.
If divorce is involved, each parent’s custodial rights may be at issue. Most parents feel strongly about having custody of their children in some way, so being prepared for this topic when a couple approaches a divorce is of the utmost importance—especially if one spouse challenges the other spouse’s custodial rights. Below is what to do if you suspect a divorce is on the way and children are involved:
Talk to an Experienced Attorney
We highly advise anyone approaching a divorce with children to consult with an experienced divorce attorney. They have the experience and knowledge regarding their client’s state laws and can advise them on what to expect and, most importantly, how to be prepared.
Prioritize Your Children
A divorce can be a tough time for anyone to be themselves and keep their priorities in place; however, a divorce is not the time for any parent to make their children a lower priority. Their children will most definitely need their care and support during this change in their lives, and the parent may need to be able to prove in court that their recent relationship with their child is strong and positive. Any parent going through a divorce should focus on making their children the priority.
RELATED: Read how to prepare for the child custody process.
Think Through the Parenting Plan
It may seem far off depending on where one is in the process, but when approaching a divorce, we recommend that, if the spouse has children, they begin thinking through what they would like their parenting plan/custodial arrangement to look like. Due to the complexities of a parenting plan/custodial arrangement, they will benefit from thinking ahead instead of waiting until the last minute. They will need to create a plan that includes how each parent will interact with their child and how often custody would be exercised. The more details that are included in the parenting plan/custodial arrangement, the better in the long run— from how each parent will communicate with each other to what holidays they will spend with their child and all the details in between. These top five parenting plan considerations can help.
Keep a Parenting Journal
A parent may know in their heart that they are doing their best to be a good role model and provide the best life for their child. Unfortunately, if a custody case goes to court, that parent will likely need to share evidence of their relationship. While not all divorces that involve children go to court to battle for custody, keeping a parenting journal that documents interactions, activities, etc. can only help them if their case does end up in court. Showing how often a parent is there for their children and what they are doing to create a great life for their children may be hard to prove without preparation, but a journal can help recall specific scenarios and events that can help their case.
Being a parent is a gift, and we encourage any parent that suspects a divorce is on the way to be prepared to protect their custodial rights and keep a close relationship with their child. If you find yourself in this situation, we hope these tips can help.
For information about what our experienced attorneys at Wilder Mahood McKinley & Oglesby can do to help you in your divorce or custody case, contact us online or call our office in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at 412-261-4040.
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