How to win your child custody (care) and access (contact) court case – Tips and Tricks
Legal matters concerning children are never simple. There is no manual that one can pull out for answers. This is so because all matters concerning a child are different. This is where the wisdom of experts becomes of use. What follows are some of the tips and tricks provided by Advocate Muhammad Abduroaf, a family law expert with more than a decade of experience on family law, divorce, child custody and child maintenance matters. Read on to find out some tips and tricks of the trade. Valuable advice is given on what to do through the child custody court process. Visit here for tips and tricks on how to win your child maintenance case.
All families are different, with their own dynamics, challenges and issues. A 10-year-old child in one case with living conditions, parents, siblings and mental development would be different than that of another child. All that one has to work with is the concept of a child’s best interests. That is the challenge. How do you determine what is in the child’s best interest? Well luckily, that is for the experts to decide. The Social Worker, Psychologist or Judge would have to make the call. What this article does is provide some tips and tricks on how to present a case that the experts would more than likely follow.
Parental Responsibilities and Rights
Child custody is only one aspect of a parent’s Parental Responsibilities and Rights. There are a few articles written by Advocate Muhammad Abduroaf on the topic of Parental Responsibilities and Rights. A simplified definition would be that Parents have an obligation to look after the child, feed and care for him or her, and the right to have contact and a say over the child’s life. Due to the concept of parental responsibilities and rights being so broad, this article would deal with the term, custody. Please note that a better legal term for custody would be care, and for access would be contact. However, for simplicity, we shall use the terms custody and access to children.
What mistakes parents make
There is a range of mistakes parents makes when dealing with child custody matters. This article deals with the most common mistakes made.
Badmouthing the other parent
When a couple is together, either through marriage, or a romantic relationship, their shortfalls are not an issue. For example, if a father occasionally smokes marijuana, or has shady friends and family, the mother did not have an issue with it when she met him and even had a child with him. However, when they break up, then she has a lot to say about his character. Where in the past she had no problem with the father taking their child out with his friends, and now she does not want the father to even see the child.
If the father is truly a danger to the child, then of course, the factor is relevant. But it would be a waste of time to focus too much on issues you were aware of before the child was conceived, and now make an issue of it.
Saying the father cannot have contact due to not paying adequate or no child support
Child support is the right of the child. And every child should obtain adequate child support from both his or her parents. However, if a parent does not pay child support, that is no reason alone to refuse him contact. Or, should he pay more child support, he would receive more contact. Maybe there are legitimate reasons why he cannot pay child support or the amount the parent wants. Maybe what the mother is claiming is excessive etc. Be that as it may, if a parent does not pay child support, the maintenance court should be approached for assistance.
Should a parent refuse the other parent contact to his or her child due to not paying child support, notwithstanding the non-paying parent having parental responsibilities and rights to have contact with that child, the refusing parent is clearly showing a disregard for the law and what is in the minor child’s best interests.
Stop paying child support due to being refused contact
As stated, each parent should maintain their child according to their means. If one parent refused another parent contact; this does not afford you the right to not pay child support. You should not withhold child support, but pay it and approach the relevant court or authority for assistance and relief. This would show that you are a reasonable parent knowing what is in the child’s best interests. This the court would find favourable in your child custody case.
Only now the father wants to have contact
There are many reasons why a father who did not play an active role in a child’s life in the past can now play such a role. This would generally be in the child’s best interests. Whatever issue the parents had in the past, should not affect the child’s right to form part of his or her parent’s lives. However, this is a very strong pill to swallow. Many a time, a mother cared for a child alone, since birth, rearing her, educating her etc., and fifteen years later, the father wants to come on the scene, and show off to the world what an awesome daughter he has.
However, whatever the facts are, if a parent now wants to form part of a child’s life and it would not harm the child and be in his or her best interests, then the law would enforce that right. Therefore, the focus should not be placed on the fact that the father was an absent parent, but more on is his entry in the child’s life and in her best interests.
Other examples of mistakes parents make in child custody cases
There are many examples of mistakes parents make in child custody cases. As each case is different, a trivial factor in one case may be the deciding factor in another case. The trick is, focus on what is best for the child holistically. The judge will only give you so much time to present your case, so use it wisely.
What to focus on in Child Custody Cases
Holding what was stated above, now we need to deal with some tips on how to win your (and not lose) child custody case. Most of it is common sense, but which is often times overlooked.
Outline why you can care for the child better than the other parent
It is very important to focus on your capabilities as a caregiver. Can you care for the child better than the other parent can? You can’t just say so, you need to prove it. And how do you do that? The past is always a good starting point. State how you cared for the child since birth up until now. Demonstrate your parenting skills with how you nursed your child to health, made her get good grades. If you show that you have cared well for your child, the court would not change the primary caregiving roles very easily
Outline the problems that would arise if the court does not follow your custody recommendations
The court is limited to what you tell it. In other words, do not take for granted that the Court knows certain facts. Also, do not think that the court would feel sorry for you or sympathise with you and guess the facts in your favour. If the facts are not stated on record, you cannot presume the court knows it. Therefore, whatever information that is relevant, state it either in your affidavit or in court should you testify.
Get experts to assess and agree with you
The courts most of the time, follow the recommendations of experts. The judge, magistrate, and the attorneys and advocates are lawyers and are only skilled and trained in law. A social worker or psychologist who assessed the matter would come from the right angle and advise the court accordingly. Therefore, try to get the situation assessed by an expert.
Final words on Child Custody Cases
As each child custody case is different, a case by case assessment needs to be made as to what facts are relevant. The focus is on relevance and not on fighting personal battles with the other party. That would get you nowhere. Focus on what is in the child’s best interests and you will win your case.
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