Child custody and visitation are two of the most hard-fought legal issues in the family law realm. This is understandable given the stakes involved. After all, the outcome of these disputes can have tremendous ramifications on your child’s well-being as well as your relationship with your kid. With so much on the line, you must know how to aggressively advocate for your child’s best interests, which, depending on the circumstances, may mean that you have to defend yourself.
When your child’s other parent seeks a child custody modification, then they’re going to try to point out to the court everything that paints you in a bad light, all in hopes of convincing the judge that you’re a less fit parent than initially determined. So, if you’re about to go into a modification dispute, then you need to know how to appropriately defend yourself and the existing custody arrangement.
How to defend yourself in a child custody modification dispute
Even if you feel like you’re on the losing end of a modification request, you have options for protecting your time with your child. This includes doing the following:
- Presenting contradictory evidence: Your child’s other parent is going to lob a lot of evidence at the court. Some of it might be damaging, but it also might be false. Or as is the case in many of these instances, the information could be taken out of context. You can combat this evidence by presenting your own contradictory evidence. While this might mean presenting witness testimony, it could also include submitting documentary evidence such as police, medical, and schooling records.
- Going on the offensive: Although the modification request might focus on what the other parent is portraying as “bad” characteristics of your parenting abilities, you can turn the tables and make similar arguments about them. So, be diligent about combing through the evidence to see what you can find. Also, make sure that you’re not simply attacking the other parent but are instead raising issues in light of your child’s best interests.
- Attacking credibility: If you think that the other parent is lying about the evidence that they’re presenting, then you need to demonstrate to the court why they can’t be trusted. There are several ways to attack witness credibility, such as by pointing out prior inconsistent statements and even prior criminal history. If you’re successful in diminishing the credibility of the other parent and their witnesses, then you decrease the likelihood that the modification request will be successful.
- Shift the focus: While the other parent is bound to come at you, you might be able to deflect harmful evidence by demonstrating that it isn’t relevant to your parenting abilities or your child’s best interests. For example, a social media post showing you having drinks over dinner might be used to try to show that you have a drinking problem, but you can probably easily counter this by demonstrating that you weren’t responsible for your child’s care at that time and that excessive drinking isn’t normal behavior for you.
Confidently navigate a child custody modification request
If you try to improvise your arguments when facing a modification request, you could find yourself on the losing end. You don’t want that to happen just because you’re unprepared. And you can take the stress out of the process by educating yourself on the process and how best to build compelling legal arguments. By being proactive in building your case, you’ll better position yourself for the outcome that you want and that’s best for your child.