Become a Better Parent and Prove It
by Dorthy Walsh Ripka, Esq. Cordell & Cordell, PC
If you are currently involved in a contested child custody case or soon will be, there are so key items that you must be prepared for in order to achieve the best possible result.
If you want the Court to award you custody, then you will need to make the Court believe it is in the best interest of your child to be with you primarily. This is a very subjective standard, and the court is vested with great discretion in making this decision. You need to convince the judge that you are the best decision for the children’s home base. You will want the judge to believe in you and your ability to parent.
It is not only important to show the flaws of the other parent, but even more important for you to show your strengths. The facts of your case are what will make the difference. This is not about the law or how your lawyer presents your case, but the facts, and the best way to present the facts.
Key Concern Number 3:
3. Monitoring of your conduct.
a. Your social conduct is relevant to the case. You can harm your case, if you do not think carefully about how you act during the case.
i. Be cautious of use of any alcohol or drugs, except those prescribed by a physician. Your actions, even if you are out with friends and not responsible for caring for your child at the time, will reflect upon you. Be cautious not to allow your children to see you under the influence of drugs or alcohol or to be exposed to frequent use of alcohol by others in the presence of the child.
ii. Do not frequent bars, even if you are not drinking. Never take your child to such an establishment.
iii. Do not have an intimate/sexual relationship. It can cause problems in your case, even if the child is not aware of the behavior. Do not introduce a boyfriend/girlfriend to the child. Do not allow him/her to sleep over at your house while the child is present.
b. Renew your Faith. If you have been involved in church in the past, but not now, then now is a great time to renew your faith. Either way, you can strengthen your current bond and/or begin attending your church or house of worship regularly. Church members and leaders make excellent witnesses. Make contacts within the Church. Encourage your child to participate in the church activities for the children.
c. Your Stability.
i. Employment. Your employment is very important to the judge making overall character assessments regarding you.
i. If not employed currently, get employed immediately.
a. Track all employment leads.
b. Track all jobs applied for, offers made, etc.
c. Track all time spent job hunting.
ii. If you have a work schedule that limits your ability to have time with your children, attempt to switch shifts or find different employment to achieve your custody goals.
iii. If you need training or education to get a better job, begin as soon as possible and know the time and expense to complete the same.
iv. Keep your overtime and other benefits consistent. Any sudden changes to employment, like terminating overtime will stand out. You do not want to look like you are not being honest or trying to hide anything. Anytime you are dishonest, then your credibility is negatively impacted.
d. Prepare for the Actual Trial.
i. Witnesses. Who do you want to call to support your case? What
will they say? Do they know about your parenting skills and your
spouses’ flaws? Are they biased? Are they believable? Can they
attend court on the scheduled date?
ii. What to wear. Remember what you wear reflects who you are
how you are viewed by the judge. Dress professionally and conservatively.
Dorothy Walsh Ripka is the Team Leader of the Cordell & Cordell, P.C. offices in Dallas, Fort Worth and Memphis. Ms. Ripka is a seasoned attorney who has devoted her practice exclusively to domestic relations. She is licensed to practice law in Texas, Missouri and Illinois.
Read more about Dorothy Ripka.