For moms, it's incredibly important to be prepared for trial if your child custody case does indeed go that route. Naturally, your nerves may be on edge about an upcoming trial and as mothers we all want the best possible outcome for our children; an outcome that is in their best interests. No matter how confident you may feel, if you haven't been to trial before you may be wondering what to expect. In sharing my experience and what I've learned I can only hope that it will help other moms know a bit more before they have to take the stand too.
In a previous post I discussed divorce/trial tips for moms. In this part 2, I discuss some additional things I have personally found to be helpful in a child custody case/trial.
1. On the day of trial it's incredibly important to dress conservatively, go the extra mile on your clothing and hair so you appear as polished as possible. Being on time to court is equally important and keeping your cell phone quiet so as not to disturb the court.
2. Something that may be very wise to do is in the week leading up to trial is to prepare an "Exhibit Notebook". In this notebook which your attorney can present to the judge to review, you can include a selection of photos showing communication (texts, emails, etc) between you and your spouse regarding a lack of his communication in co-parenting. Likewise if you include a photograph of you and children together it makes your case more personal to the judge versus just being regarded as another random file. You can add additional photos of family outings together at the zoo, park, a family dinner together etc so he or she has a glimpse into your family life.
3. You can record conversations between you and your estranged spouse as it's especially helpful in jogging your memory in taking daily notes during the divorce process.
4. It would be wise whether you are continuing to live in the marital home during the divorce process or before vacating that you take photographs and or videos of any current damage to the home and of your joint possessions. This helps protect you regarding any outcries of damages incurred in the home or to property by the other spouse later down the road. It also gives you a way to document an inventory of joint possessions so no one is later asking "but what about the such and such we owned?" and it being denied.
5. When it comes down to dividing the possessions in the marital home you may want specific items. If you go to mediation to divide all the marital possessions you will need to be prepared with a detailed list of all items you want. If this list is vague it may create issues for you later. It's imperative the list is detailed and including photos may be a wise idea.
6. Keeping your expression as neutral as possible will benefit you in court.
7. Go to www.ourfamilywizard.com and sign up. The site provides a password protected calendar for posting your children's activities, doctor appointments, etc. It also provides you a way to email your estranged or ex spouse and communicate with them regarding the kids. It will show when each parent "views" the children's activities so there is no denying down the road that they did not know about it.
8. Any family passes can be shared, (like for the water park, zoo, etc) the cost split for the children so there is no reason for each parent to purchase their own set of passes. You can exchange the passes on the days you exchange the children.
9. Tax deduction. If you are sharing 50/50 custody and have two children more than likely you will each take a child to deduct from your taxes. As the parent (or mom) that earns less it would be wise to choose the younger child so you receive the deduction longer.
10. Don't always assume your attorneys know best. Always, always follow your gut instinct. If they tell you "You're in charge here, you're leading this." be wary. You are hiring them for a reason... not to represent yourself. Do not allow them to place their responsibilities on your shoulders. Divorce is a costly process and you are paying them to do a job; to represent you and lead you to the other side.... not to leave you floundering and wondering what to do.
11. Final Divorce Decree: Holidays need to be specified in detail and you should always have a "start date" specified for week on week off 50/50 exchanging of the children. That way you have a point of when you began the schedule and know whose week is whose based on that.
A child custody battle is always long, arduous and costly. Costly not just in the financial sense but taxing on everyone's nerves and emotional well being. Be certain it's a battle you want to take on and that you not only have the financial means but the will power also. Going to mediation or choosing a collaborative attorney if your divorce is amicable may be the route to go if possible.
Lean on your friends during the divorce process and listen carefully to any advice of those you know who have divorced before you. They will likely have some golden nuggets of wisdom that you may have not thought of. Above all, take care of yourself, eat right, get plenty of sleep and see a therapist if needed to vent and gain insight.
As women, we can do so much to help other women... to be a soft spot to fall and lean on during times of need. Doing this offers blessings to each and everyone of us... not just benefiting us but our children too.
© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2013