The mere fact that there is an issue of custody means that the other parent was active in the life of the child, regardless of the duration of that relationship. There is therefore now a breakdown in the relationship between the two parents, and the mother, now a single mom, is seeking custody. Below are some child custody tips for single moms which may prove helpful:
Be Involved in the Child’s Life
Judges and courts do not favor parents who are not involved in their child’s or children’s lives. A single mom who is seeking custody needs to be involved in the children’s lives. This includes –
- their schooling,
- their extra-curricular activities,
- taking them to the doctor or dentist,
- attending parents-teachers meetings,
- knowing their friends and acquaintances,
- knowing the professionals involved in their lives, etc.
Ensure a Healthy Environment
When the children are in your care, make sure they are safe and enjoying a healthy environment. The children should be happy and protected. They should not lack attention because they are competing for the mother’s. This has implications for the mother entering into another relationship or relationships. Exposing children to other relationships and companions too early is frowned upon by judges and courts, as well as other parents.
Be Careful About What is Said
It is not a good idea, neither is it fair, to say unkind things about the other parent in the hearing of the children. This can be done consciously or unconsciously, but it does not score points with judges. Judges like to know that regardless of whom the child lives with, he or she maintains a healthy relationship with his other parent.
Remember Important Details
It is important to be able to recall details when it is time to go to court. These include –
- when the children were with you,
- what events were attended,
- the times when your spouse did not pick up the kids on time,
- the times when your spouse did not drop off the kids on time,
- keeping a calendar or journal of important events.
Be on Time
Make sure you are on time every time you need to be. This applies to when it is your turn to pick up or drop off the children. Being late has the effect of –
- irking the judges,
- creating arguments with spouses, and
- distressing the children.
This involves single moms accommodating the other parent who would like to switch weekends or weekdays, as long as she is able to manage her schedule. This information given to the judge could make the difference in a close custody case.
Keep Court Details from Children
The children should not be told the details of what is happening in the court. Courts are opposed to children being exposed to such details. Children should, instead, be reassured of the love of both parents, who both want to be with them.
Do not Coach the Children
The most important thing to consider in any custody battle is where the children want to live. They should not be coached or brow-beaten on this matter, but it is good to have an idea of the children’s preference. If they want to be with the other parent, it is pointless to waste time and money on a custody battle. This should only be done if there is a belief that living with the other parent would be unsafe or inappropriate for the children.
Because it is a battle, the single mother has to be prepared to cast the other parent in a bad light. To this end, she should be able to expose the other parent’s –
- untimeliness in pick-ups or drop-offs,
- lack of involvement,
- inflexibility with the schedule,
- history of mental health issues which may impact his caring ability,
- alcohol or drug addictions,
- number and frequency of parent’s romantic relationships and the children’s exposure to them,
- ability to properly supervise the children,
- ability to ensure that the children attend school,
- ability to ensure that the children see professionals like doctors, dentists, etc, when necessary.
Listen to Your Attorney
Most importantly, find and hire a good attorney, and be honest and open with him or her. He is being paid for good advice, so that advice should be taken, regardless of what a good friend or relative might think.
Know Who Can Decide Custody
In order for a court to make a ruling in a custody case, it must have jurisdiction over that case. Jurisdiction means that the court has the power or the right to decide the case. The child or children have to be living in a state for at least six months, for that state to be considered the children’s home state. The court in that state can then decide the case. This prevents one parent from kidnapping the children and fleeing to another state to seek custody in that state.
Don’t Level False Accusations
It has been found that when protective parents allege physical or sexual abuse during a custody case, they usually become victims rather than victors. This is because the protective parents are usually mothers, and there is a Fathers Rights Movement which, naturally, sides with the fathers. This Movement supports the myth that mothers who are evil have made false allegations about physical or sexual abuse, or domestic violence, against them. The purpose of the allegations, it is alleged, is the deprivation and alienation of fathers from their children.
If those abuses are really happening, Child Protective Services (CPS) should be informed, but this needs to be done before a child custody case is in progress. This is because during a custody case, CPS tends to be very skeptical of such allegations, not desiring to become pawns in such instances. The end result tends to be that the protective parent is regarded unfavorably, and custody is given to the abuser instead.