First and foremost, it is vital to change your thinking from a custody “battle” to a custody dispute.  Labelling custody disagreements as battle sets up the child(ren) as pawns in a fight between their parents.  Children are people, not pawns.

The Courts in New Jersey are compelled to determine custody between two separating or divorcing parents as what would be in the best interest of the child(ren).  Obviously, if you are in this situation you and the other parent of your child are not in agreement as to what is best.  That being said, it is unlikely the Judge will be in a position to determine that either, as he or she will have just a small window into your lives and that of your children.

So how can you prevail?

  1. Show the Court that you have a willingness to work with your spouse, no matter how difficult that may be. If necessary, bring in outside help, i.e. a therapist or a parenting coordinator to guide you.
  2. Hire a lawyer with expertise in Child Custody matters. Your child(ren) are the most important entities in your life.  Now is not the time to back away from getting the best legal help available.
  3. Of course, this is probably one of the most hectic times of your life- emotionally, financially and time wise. While you clearly need to take care of yourself to be the best parent you can be, do not let this take time away from spending quality time with your child(ren).  Be there for them.
  4. If you have scheduled parenting time with your child(ren) be there. Do not be late or cancel absent a serious emergency.

Other crucial issues that may surprise you:

  1. Do not everbad mouth the child(ren)’s spouse to the child(ren).  They are each one half of that parent and to put the parent down can make your child(ren) feel awful about themselves.
  2. Do not let the child(ren) be involved in any way with the custody litigation. While this may not always be possible if a forensic psychologist has become part of the custody litigation, make sure you are not the one informing the child(ren) in the proceedings.  Way too often conversations between you and your support system or lawyer are overheard.  Do not let his happen.

Of utmost importance is to show the Court you are a cooperative, involved, competent and loving parent.