When you and your spouse decide to divorce, it can be an emotionally charged process. You may have to make several important decisions along the way, the most important being what custody arrangement is set for your child. Whether your marriage ended amicably or not will usually set the tone for how amicably custody can be determined; unfortunately, sometimes spouses will get so competitive that they forget to prioritize the wellbeing of their child over “winning”.
Navigating custody in addition to a divorce or separation is stressful enough for adults – imagine how it’s affecting your child! It can be easy to focus on the long-term picture, but it’s also necessary to focus on the “here and now”, and on keeping the journey as smooth as possible for your kids. As a parent, one of your main jobs during custody proceedings is to be a safe place for your children and help them get through what can be a difficult time!
How Can You Support Your Child During Custody?
- Prioritize Whatever Is In The Best Interest Of Your Child
It’s easy for former spouses to let their feelings surrounding their split cloud their best judgment when it comes to the matter of custody. However, it’s important to remember that Utah courts will always decide custody based on what is in the best interest of your child. If you and your spouse are already thinking about the arrangement in the same way, it’ll make the process much easier and faster.
Try to eliminate the aspect of “winning custody,” and think about your child’s mental stability, health, and happiness. Are you fit to provide that for them? Is your spouse? Can it be done together? These are all things to consider. Remember that your child isn’t property or an asset that can be simply divided up.
- Keep Matters As Civil As Possible With Your Co-Parent
This can be one of the most challenging things to do in the midst of custody, especially when deciding how you and your co-parent will timeshare, because tensions and conflict may be running high. You may also be co-parenting with someone who refuses to keep things civil and wants to make the process hard on you. In this case, you can still keep things positive as much as it is up to you by not bad-mouthing your child’s other parent to them, being patient, and remaining calm if and when you come in contact with your co-parent, especially in front of your child. If you two are able to communicate and be in the same room without fighting, this is an even greater example for your children to observe. It can keep their stress levels low and can provide them with a sense of stability even though things are changing.
- Take Your Child’s Preferences Into Consideration
Not every child is a toddler or baby when their parents get divorced; some are old enough to voice their own opinion. Though it may be challenging, you should take your child’s preferences into consideration when determining custody arrangements, as long as they’re old enough to make informed choices. Your child’s preferences don’t have to dictate the outcome, but they can and should influence it. In such a time of transition, it is important to try and keep the peace with children who can explicitly give an opinion on the matters. In Utah, custody laws judges often consider an older child’s preference when determining custody if custody is disputed, though the final decisions always come back to whatever is in the best interest of your child.
- Do Everything By The Book
If you truly want what’s best for your child, it is important that you follow all proper procedures of the Utah custody process. This includes filing a petition, serving your co-parent, attempting mediation, or appearing in court if you cannot agree on an arrangement. It is important that you understand Utah’s custody laws, document your interactions with your co-parent, and keep it civil when you do because they might be doing the same. It is likely that your co-parent might record you or share texts or emails to attempt to use it as evidence for a judge.
While the goal isn’t to fight, you should still be prepared for things to escalate. If you follow the proper procedures and refrain from saying or doing things you wouldn’t say or do in front of a judge, it can work in your favor. It is also the best way to go about custody morally as well, and feeds into the civility mentioned above!
- Be Honest With Them
Too often parents believe that they’re protecting their children by lying to them about what is going on or what’s going to happen, and that is simply not the case. Your child deserves to know the truth about the court proceedings and why they’re happening in the first place. If they’re old enough, it is likely that they’ll understand the cause for your split, thus the need for a custody arrangement. In fact, a poll by Resolution found that 82% of people aged 14-22 who’ve gone through a family breakup preferred their parents to part ways if they were unhappy.
Though they’re younger than us, children are extremely intuitive and likely understand more than we give them credit for. By explaining the reasons for the large shift in their life, you can ensure your child understands that this transition isn’t their fault, providing them a sense of peace going forward in a new chapter of life. A family or child counselor may be helpful to consult during this time.
What Green Legal Group Can Do For You
If you and your former spouse are in the midst of a custody battle, it is important that you try to take the emotions out of the decision making when it comes to your child. While custody arrangements are important, their wellbeing, mental stability, and relationship with you are just as important and can be easily damaged when their parents are separating. Our custody attorneys take pride in our ability to initiate amicable negotiations in custody situations, but we understand that isn’t always an option, especially if your former spouse has a history of domestic violence or abuse. If that is the case, we can aggressively fight on your behalf for an arrangement that is safe and best for you and your child. Call Green Legal Group today for a free 30-minute consultation.