Child custody can be one of the most divisive components of any divorce. This is particularly true when one parent believes that the other parent is unfit. In most jurisdictions the judge will try to determine the custody arrangement that is in the best interest of the child. This may mean that you will have to prove that the other parent is unfit for sole or joint custody.
Presenting Your Case
Many judges dislike parents bashing each other in the courtroom. As a general rule, it’s advisable for you to focus on why you are the better parent. For example, you might be prepared to demonstrate the predictability of your child’s schedule and provide proof about nutritious eating habits and enriching extracurricular activities. Evidence such as this can help to convince the court that you are the better parent. Focusing on your parenting skills is a wonderful way to gain the sympathy of the court.
Knowing the Law
Child custody laws vary widely. Accordingly, it’s in your best interests to be familiar with your state’s laws. The best way to do this is by hiring legal counsel to represent you. Your lawyer is your ally and can help you take the steps necessary to prove that the other parent is unfit.
It’s likely that you’ll need more than your own testimony to prove that the other parent is unfit. Official records that detail the other parent’s criminal history, substance abuse or pattern of domestic violence can be invaluable. Photographs, correspondence and audio or video files are also admissible forms of evidence. You may be able to establish that the other parent’s home is unsuitable, such as if the child is exposed to dangerous objects or situations. Even the neighborhood where the other parent lives may be a factor. If it’s a neighborhood with a notoriously high crime rate, the judge may decide that the child is better off not spending time there.
Get Help from a Psychologist
In custody cases you may be able to ask the judge to have the other parent evaluated by a psychologist. This can be revealing, and while it is not necessarily conclusive, it can offer the court insight into the other parent’s state of mind. You may also ask to have your child evaluated by a psychologist as this may help to determine what their relationship with the other parent is like.