How Can I Prepare for a Custody Battle?
Often, clients will come to me and ask "how can I prepare for a custody battle?"
What I usually tell them is that divorce is very fact-intensive.
In Michigan, for example, there are the "best interest factors." What the judges do when they determine a custody battle is they look at those factors and they compare your families facts to those factors to see which parent those factors weigh in favor of. (you can see them here)
Once you go through all of the factors, the judge will essentially give a "score" to each parent. Whichever parent is found to have more factors in favor of themselves will be granted custody of the children.
For example: The judge awards 4 factors in favor of Dad and 8 factors in favor of Mom, therefore Mom would be granted physical custody of the children.
What I usually tell people is that it is VERY important to begin documenting and preparing things for me, or whoever your divorce attorney is, early enough.
Again, it is very, very fact intensive.
- Write down all the things you do with or for your children.
- Write down all the things your spouse does or does not do for your children.
- Write down any changes of behavior your spouse has with the children. For example, if your spouse did not previously participate in extra-curricular activities with the children but now they do after the divorce has begun, take note of that. Their divorce attorney may be giving them this same advice.
- Write down if they miss parenting time or are late for parenting time.
- Write down if they are manipulating parenting time.
I always have all of my clients keep a journal or a log of these and continually update this log even after the divorce is completed and the case is done. If there is a change in custody later, I will ask for the same information and potential evidence.
Write the journal or log about what goes on and what happens with your kids and/or yourself and your former spouse so that I can use that and apply that towards the Michigan statutory best interest factors to get custody rulings in your favor.
Another thing is damage control.
Divorce can be very easily manipulated. Do not let your spouse trigger you into acting out of character. Don't send any nasty texts or emails, don't post anything ridiculous on social media, don't leave any nasty voicemails.
You must act like anything you say or post will be recorded by your spouse. Make sure anything you write or say would be acceptable if seen by your judge, because it just might be.