Over the last 20 years, I have helped a ton of parents with their custody cases. One of the first pieces of advice I always recommend to clients is… “Ask for more time with your kids.” This statement is so useful in many ways that I want to approach it from several different angles.
Before there are Orders
When you first separate and before there are Temporary or Final Orders, you need to be in the habit of asking for more time with your kids.
- If you have the ability to rearrange your work schedule so that you could watch and spend time with your kids vs. say daycare, I would highly advise you to do so.
- If you are seeking custody, I would ask, and ask, and ask your Ex for more time.
- If there is any time that your Ex is not able to care or watch your children, consider asking for all of that time.
Custody time is going to be based on who is spending the most time with your children, so make sure it’s you. If your children are under the age of four, this becomes even more important to prove to the court system an existing pattern that you can consistently and regularly care for your kids.
- If you are seeking custody, record all the times your Ex says, “No” as this may give the appearance that she is not willing to work with you.
- You WANT to spend more time with your kids. If you don’t, stop reading and don’t give your Ex a hard time seeking custody.
- It shows the court that you are genuinely interested in wanting more time with your kids.
During Your Temporary Orders – Ask for More Time with Your Kids
If there is any chance that you will not be the primary custodian, then you need to prep your attorney to ask for more than just standard visitation and reasons as to why. I was a paternity case and my daughter was less than a year old. I took infant care parenting classes and had letters from my employment that I worked at home with flexible hours. The judge took all of that into consideration and rewarded me with more time with my daughter.
- If you can show a pattern that your Ex routinely denies you visitation (see #2 above), the judge may also grant you additional time.
- If you have family traditions or holidays that you spend a certain way, speak up, those times may be granted as well.
- Finally, if both parents are equally capable and you have shown the judge that you care for your children and have about equal time, you could be rewarded or presented as the temporary custodial parent.
During Your Final Court Orders
I have seen judges grant one week on and one week off, different parents of shared custody other than standard visitation. Grant extended standard visitation or other shared parenting programs not mentioned. The judge grants some of these options when you ASK for them. So make sure you or your attorney ask for them.
- In tandem with all the above-mentioned points, have 3rd party concrete evidence that backs up your position.
- If you have had 50/50 time with your Ex, bring calendars to show it.
- If you have a flexible work schedule, bring a letter from your employer to prove it.
- Give reasons that are beyond your personal testimony as to evidence of your time with your kids. For me, it was photo albums that were a huge hit in my final court case.
As you case see asking for more time with your kids is paramount in seeking custody. Your kids need to spend time with both parents and the old adage applies here as well. You get in life what you have the courage to ask for. And I would add you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
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