If you have been caught off guard by your spouse wanting a divorce, this can be a tumultuous time in anyone's life. If you have kids, keeping their needs, safety, and custody concerns at the forefront will be a must. Here are four strategies to keep your custody goals a priority if you are going through an unexpected divorce.
1. Stay in the Home With Your Kids
If at all possible, try to be the spouse that lives in the family home with your children. If your divorce proceedings are truly unexpected, then you shouldn't be the one to have to leave. Staying with your children will give you the upper hand when it comes to custody and visitation since their primary residence will most likely be the best fit for future living arrangements.
2. Know Your Limits
If your spouse has left and is expecting you to bend over backwards with visitation, know your limits. Seek counsel from a child custody attorney to see what temporary limitations can be put into place and if your spouse has rights to unsupervised visits. If your spouse has moved out of the area or in with a significant other, you can push to delay or limit visitation if you think this will be disruptive for your kids.
3. Don't Put Your Kids in the Middle
On the other hand, it won't do your kids any good to use them to punish your spouse. Remember that this will ultimately hurt your kids and make the process that much harder for them. Just because your spouse left you, this doesn't mean they are necessarily leaving their children. While you might be angry, they will have rights when it comes to visitation if they take all of the right steps in the process.
4. Keep Your Kid's Day-to-Day Routine
While you might want to make changes to your life while going through a divorce, this might not be fair to your kids. If you can showcase the fact that their priorities and daily life are of utmost importance to you, courts will be more likely to grant you full or partial custody. Keeping your kids in the same school, the same after school activities, and roughly the same schedule will make their lives easier and look good to those reviewing your custody arrangements.
The best thing to do if you are blindsided with a separation is to get moving on custody agreements if divorce is imminent. While you still might be in shock, it will be best for your kids if this process isn't drawn out. Clear expectations and your kids' needs for the future can be mapped out with a child custody attorney, such as Kenneth J. Molnar Attorney, and hopefully give you the upper hand.