What The Court Wants in a Custody Plan
(Provided by How to Win Child Custody)

The courtís foremost desire to preserve the ďstatus quo,Ē that is to keep things as close to the way they are now as practicable, is strongest in child custody matters. The courtís attempts to keep things the way they are for your children can be a trap. Assume that you gave it no thought whatsoever and allowed your spouse to have the children, your children, between separation and trial because you didnít have a decent place to stay. At trial, the court will favor that arrangement because itís working and itís what the children are used to. Now, at what the court will view as the last minute, youíll have to give a very good reason why a change in where your children live would be in their best interests.

It is easier and more effective to create the situation you want from the very beginning. At trial, the court will see it as perfectly natural to give you what you want on an ongoing basis. Youíre successful if you have been spending the amount of time with your children temporarily that you want to spend with them permanently. One of the major understatements of family law is that temporary custody arrangements have a way of turning into permanent orders.

Of course, the best interests of your children always govern. If the children are living with you at separation, encourage them and your spouse to continue to see each other as much as possible. Itís good for your children. Youíll look good in court too, if a custody fight develops, because you have a track record of sharing the children. Itís worth repeating the obvious here: Deeds speak louder than words. When it comes to your children, the court is far more comfortable endorsing a proven pattern of conduct than trying something new.

The ability to share your children with the other parent is one of the factors the court considers if it must pick between the two parents and award custody. If your spouse demands equal time with the children, but you donít think that would be good, discuss this with your lawyer immediately. Youíll need to confirm the validity of your position and gather evidence to support it.

The state is required to act to protect the rights of your children when you say your marriage doesnít work. However, the court seldom interferes with a reasonable custody arrangement proposed by parents. When the court is required to make the custody decision for you, it will do the best it can for the children reserving jurisdiction, retaining the power, to modify its order if circumstances should change significantly.

Although every order made by the court affecting children can be changed, most permanent orders stay in effect for a very long time. Before the court will even consider changing custody or visitation, it must be persuaded that a material change of circumstances has occurred since the last order. Most custody orders appear to continue to work as originally written; however, parents sometimes work out informal visitation changes. It is suspected that many custody arrangements drift toward a single-parent situation as the years pass.

Information provided by:
How to Win Child Custody