By Robert M. Going, Attorney
When couples split up, custody arrangements can be a challenge. There’s no “one size fits all” answer, so every parent must create their own agreements that work for their children and their unique lifestyle.
However, each parent wants as much time as possible, making custody arrangements stressful. That’s where the five “Cs” come in. When each parent keeps these five factors in mind, they are much more likely to create agreements that reduce stress and put the best interest of the children front and center.
Calm: Be Civil for a Favorable Custody Agreement
The end of a relationship is complex and can bring about many challenges. Getting caught up in negative feelings is easy, but parents should prioritize remaining calm.
Transitioning to a new family dynamic can be stressful for kids. However, staying level-headed and civil when communicating with an ex-spouse helps kids deal with the transition and can positively impact the outcome of a custody agreement.
Remember that any negative behavior can be used against a parent in court, potentially harming their chances of achieving a favorable custody arrangement. For instance, shouting at an ex-partner in front of the children is reason enough to support accusations of aggression or abuse.
Caring: Prioritizing Your Kids is Crucial in Divorce or Separation
When relationships end, it’s natural for couples to feel hurt and upset. However, it’s important to remember that the children come first. You must put their needs before yours and make them feel loved and cared for during this time. For school-aged children, this also means respecting the importance of their academic, sports, and social activities, even if it conflicts with planned visitation.
Dependability is also critical during custody proceedings. Parents should encourage routines for homework and daily activities. They must also be on time for pick-ups and drop-offs. Being trustworthy helps ease the transition into a new family dynamic and shows kids they are the priority, even during a difficult time.
Cooperation: Co-Parent Successfully
Judges almost always favor joint custody arrangements when ruling on child custody. Unless there is evidence that one parent is unfit or poses a danger to the child, the courts agree that spending time with both parents is essential for children.
The courts also appreciate cooperation. In Pennsylvania, courts are more likely to favor the parent willing to compromise. The courts also show a preference for a parent who works to foster the child’s relationship with the other parent rather than hindering it.
Both parents must work together to make joint custody arrangements work. That means each caregiver must be committed to co-parenting. They must be open to compromise and cooperation to create a plan that works for everyone involved.
Contain: Resist the Impulse to Use Social Media
Going through a divorce or separation is complex, and it can be challenging to control emotions, especially when it’s so easy to broadcast feelings on social media. However, parents must resist the temptation to share personal details or negative thoughts about their ex-spouse online.
In fact, anything posted on social media can be used as evidence in court, which could harm the child custody outcome. For example, posting negative comments or pictures about an ex-partner on platforms like Facebook or Twitter could be seen by their children or their friends.
Even innocent posts about everyday activities like going out or taking a vacation can be used against a parent during custody hearings. For example, photos that show a partying lifestyle could imply irresponsibility. Photos of an expensive dinner or pricy purchases could be used to demonstrate financial extravagance. It’s crucial to remember that social media is not private. So, it’s best to avoid it altogether during custody proceedings.
Courts: Respect the Court and Its Orders
Before establishing a permanent custody order, the court usually issues a temporary order. It is essential that parents strictly follow this interim agreement to the letter. Adhering to the rules demonstrates respect for the court and the ex-spouse and, most importantly, shows that the parent values the time spent with their child.
When it comes to schedules, minutes matter. Arriving late for a custody visit or missing the deadline for returning a child can create problems. Similarly, rescheduling or canceling a visit, even with the other parent’s permission, can be submitted as a sign of irresponsibility in court.
Talk to an Experienced Lancaster County Attorney
Even when parents strive to follow the five Cs, there may still be times when consulting a child custody attorney is necessary. An experienced family law lawyer in Lancaster County can help.
They’ll provide objective guidance when communication becomes difficult, assist in creating a visitation schedule, and ensure a fair custody agreement is reached.
If you are facing a child custody dispute, consider contacting our Law Offices at Going and Plank in downtown Lancaster. We help evaluate custody issues, offer support and guidance throughout the legal process, assist in resolving disputes, and help parents reach favorable child custody resolutions.
Want to find out more about child custody? Check out these articles from Going and Plank: