Burke Levy, P.C.

Increasing the odds of a favorable child custody arrangement

In a contentious divorce, spouses often end up relinquishing a great deal of control to the courts. If divorcing spouses are unable to agree on the separation of their wealth or the need for spousal support, a judge may have to make those decisions based on formulas and an objective interpretation of the law.

You certainly don't want such a cold process to govern decisions made about your children and your custody of them. While you and your spouse may be having trouble finding common ground, it behooves your children if you take deliberate steps to arrive at a mutually acceptable custody arrangement. If this is not possible, your behavior will definitely factor into the judge's decision about how custody will be divided between you and your spouse.

Small steps to make a big impression

While more courts in Massachusetts and across the country are favoring parenting plans that divide custody as equally as possible, this is not a given. In fact, if a judge believes such an arrangement is not in the best interests of the children, one parent can easily win a large majority of parenting time, leaving the other parent with scheduled visitation.

To improve the chances that the court in your case will consider you for full -- or at least shared -- custody, you have more control than you may think. Your conscientious attention to the image you present will play a large part in influencing the court. Some of the factors a judge will consider include:

  • Are you willing to cooperate with your former spouse, including speaking positively about him or her in front of your children?
  • Do you take full advantage of the time your temporary custody schedule allows you with the children, including showing up on time, limiting the times you must reschedule and making your time with them as meaningful and normal as possible?
  • Do you present the image of a parent who is competent, confident, loving and serious about your role as a parent?
  • Have you demonstrated your commitment to gaining custody by completing any orders the court required, such as parenting classes, counseling or in-home custody evaluations?
  • Do you avoid any activities that may be used against you in a custody case, such as the use of alcohol or drugs, associating with questionable friends or going to unseemly places?

Sometimes the little things that make a big impression on a judge, including your promptness in arriving to court, your clean and well-groomed appearance and your respectful demeanor. An experienced family law attorney will also offer suggestions for increasing your chances of securing a favorable custody arrangement, and heeding that advice is a wise move.

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