So it is clear to you and your partner that a separation and termination of your relationship is imminent. Here is what not to do:
- Avoiding child rearing responsibilities while awaiting a court order.
Realize that more often than not, the court when entering a custody order is going to look at the parenting “arrangements” that two parents have been doing for the six months prior to going to court. Many times one parent will talk the other parent into an arrangement that serves that parents agenda and is not in the best interests of the child and is not a true picture of how the parents had previously divided the parenting of the child. Then after the parents have “tested” this arrangement of time, when the issue is reviewed in court, the court often will order that the court should maintain the “status quo” or the existing arrangement pending trial, or input from a court appointed social worker.
- Trying to make the other parent a better adult.
Every child is entitled to know his/her parents. However, when a parent has a history of substance abuse, alcohol abuse, mental health issues, and/or physical abuse, you rarely get more than one chance to advocate for the safety and welfare of your child. Do not minimize the negative choices of your partner.
- Treating children like personal property.
Children are not property and they need both parents. Even when parents are not equal in their parenting skills, a child can still learn valuable lessons from both. You should be open to allowing the other parent the ability to impart these lessons to your children, as long as it does not conflict with their safety. A custody decree should reflect the individual qualities of not only the parents, but also the needs and issues that the children of the parents may have.
- Thinking that Child Support payments are based on Child Custody time.
Child Custody and Child Support are two different issues. The myth that is out there is that a parent who has the child for half of the time (or as is spoken so many times, 50-50) does not have to pay child support for the child. Child Support is based on the incomes of the parents, and takes into consideration, the cost of health insurance, day care, health care and other activities of the child. However, knowledge is power, and ignorance can be costly. Many parents will not seek legal advice and agree to a custody arrangement where child support should be paid but the parent agreed to no payment to just resolve the dispute.