I’ve been involved in child custody cases for 19 years. I have been on the road teaching classes in Dallas, Austin, San Antonio and Houston and have been talking, helping and coaching clients through this blog. I’m aligned and in constant communications with custody attorneys from coast to coast. If I had to boil the success of parents in their pursuit of primary custody, winning custody would come down to one simple question…

Winning Custody – Are You Really the Better Parent?

In its purest and most fair form, custody goes to the better parent.

I ask you a very unfair but honest question. “Are you a better parent than your Ex?”

Ok, let’s make this a little more real. If you lined up 10 people that KNOW both you and your lovely, would they say without hesitation, “Oh my gosh, yes, without question Fred, you are a MUCH better parent than Cindy.”

Would the pedestrian, the babysitting, mutual friends, your kids principal, your kids’ current teacher, the school counselor, the pastor that married ya’ll, the soccer coach, the Boy Scout troop leader, and your neighbor across the street who you bearly know. Would they say, “Yes, Fred is absolutely the better parent.”

I’m stepping on toes here, and I know I am asking you to take a hard and fast realistic viewpoint on why you are seeking custody. Of course, your friends and family are going to rally around you and support you even if they don’t feel in their hearts you are the better parent.

It’s Time to Ask Those Around You, Not Just Your Friends

If you don’t know the answer to this question, it time to break out of your comfort zone and ask. My advice is to have a friend ask on your behalf. Sometimes teachers and coaches can’t be real in answering a direct question, but might be more transparent with a mutual friend.

Some sample prompts for your friend might be… “If you were a jury member assisting a judge in the custody of Fred’s kids, which parent would you say is the best parent?” “Between the two parents, who do you think would be the better parent if you had to only pick one?”

It’s Time to Change and BE a Better Parent

Let’s say in the above exercise you don’t get the answers you expect. Or let’s say you have a heart to heart conversation with the guy in the mirror and you don’t like the truth. What do you do then?

Change for the better.

When my paternity suit started, I immediately enrolled in parenting classes. I bought 10-15 parenting books. I changed my work schedule to work at home. I threw out my roommates, bought a crib, and painted a baby room. I got a more kid centric vehicle, got involved in a church, and upgraded my friends. Within a year, I became an outstanding parent. Judges, attorneys, teachers, principals, community leaders, and social workers KNEW without question I was the better parent.

As the case drew out it became abundantly clear to all involved who should determine my daughter’s residence, education, and be her primary custodian. It was me, the better parent.

What is the REAL Reason You Want Custody?

Too often I meet and work with parents who want custody for all the wrong reason. “I want to get back at him.” “I don’t want to pay child support.” “I want to be vindictive toward her.”

Custody is hard. Being the custodial parent is hard. Children are expensive.

[tweet “Dealing with the Ex and taking the high road is taxing and difficult at best.”]

That job should go to the parent who is the most educated, has the most time, and can put the needs of the children above their own.

And that… is usually the better parent. Are you the better parent?