In decades past, a woman could usually count on easily gaining custody of her children, with or without a divorce lawyer for women.
Mores taught that men should be breadwinners and women nurturers. Income discrepancy was much more prevalent, too, making it hard for women to find good-paying jobs: so it only made sense to judges to have children of divorce live with their mother while the father focused on work.
Today, things have changed. In the modern world, and it’s not a given that women will automatically retain custody of their children in a divorce. What can you do to ensure you gain custody?
5 Tips for Gaining Custody
1. Understand Ohio’s View
Ohio does not speak in terms of “custody” anymore but of “allocation of parental rights and responsibilities for the care of a child.” The court may choose to give one parent or both parents decision-making power in their child’s life, which includes making religious choices for them, deciding where they go to school, and making major health decisions.
However, it’s important to bear in mind that even if you have the sole decision-making power, your spouse will still have visitation rights unless the court deems the father’s presence might be a risk to the welfare of the children. There are more laws and regulations, but Westerville divorce lawyers for women can help you navigate them as they come up.
2. Move Quickly, But Be Accurate
When children are involved in Ohio divorce, you must fill out a Parenting Proceeding Affidavit (see an example here), which is a sworn statement that gives key information about the children, their parents, and anyone else with a major role in their lives. The form requires information like where the children have lived in the past five years and any court actions in the past regarding their custody.
File this as quickly as possible: you show your intimate knowledge of the children’s lives and wellbeing, your pattern of care for them, and send a signal that you are trustworthy and responsible. Just be sure to fill out this (and any other court forms) accurately. Judges do not look favorably on any parent who lies about key information, and even exaggerations and “fudging” can severely harm your case.
3. Talk to a Divorce Lawyer for Women
Divorce is complicated and difficult, and it becomes even more so when children are involved. Emotions run high, and your spouse may even be trying to use your children as a weapon against you to get what he wants. Meanwhile, it’s easy to make missteps simply because you’re not familiar with all the laws and customs of the court. Missteps like these are entirely honest, yet they can still hurt your case.
A good divorce lawyer who knows the unique challenges and concerns facing women in a divorce will be an ally on your side to help you navigate the courts, understand the laws, negotiate with your spouse, and advocate for your rights understanding that you know what’s best for your children. And in the event that you and your ex are able to agree on a shared parenting plan, your lawyer will have the professional knowledge you need to craft a plan the court will accept.
4. Take the High Road, Always
Don’t use your children against the other parent in any way, and don’t even complain about your ex in front of them. Be respectful of the other parent while still standing up for yourself. If the other parent has negative things in their background you can use to prove you should have custody, like DUIs or a criminal record, you will certainly want to use this in court. But you can do so without being unkind or offensive and get a criminal defense lawyer to help you in the case.
When you take the high road, you show the court that you have self-control, a balanced view, and are willing to do what it takes to put your children first. Remember that the courts have seen it all: if your spouse is trying to use your children against you, the court will almost certainly notice. When you don’t, the court will notice that, too.
5. Document, Document, Document
Keep a careful record of every negative interaction with your spouse, especially if the children are involved. If he loses his temper, fails to pick them up when he says he will, or makes threats, write this all down. It also pays to keep a record of your children’s activities, medications, meals, and other important information. Both these records can be used to show that you are the responsible parent and should be the one making decisions for your children.
It’s not a given anymore that a mother will get custody of her children in a divorce, so make sure to talk to a lawyer, keep good records, take the high road with your former spouse, and communicate quickly and accurately with the court. That way you’ll show you’re a responsible person of character who should have the lead role in caring for and raising your children.