Family law centers on settling disputes on custody of children during divorce. It is usually an acrimonious process where parents accuse one another of either trying to “turn” the child against the other parent or allege some form of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse by the other parent.

The court retains the jurisdiction to grant custody and visitation rights, acting in the child’s best interest. The custody cases are handled by lawyers who specialize in family law. According to IBISWorld, there are 449,633 law firms in the U.S., and many have family law practitioners on their books to help you navigate the custody process as peacefully as possible.

Child Custody Laws

Child custody lays out the practical relationship between parent and child. The parents have the right to make decisions about the child’s life and have the duty to provide adequate care to the child, and the court oversees this process by issuing court orders.

The custody laws differ from state to state, so you must confirm with your local courts how the law makes custody decisions in your state. However, if you live in Maryland, the court order will determine where your child will live, how to split parenting time, and to what degree each parent can make decisions about their child’s life.

Co-Parenting Strategies

Most of the time, the courts allow the child to spend time with both parents. This means you must allow the other parent to play a part in raising your child. After all, it is their child, too.

For co-parenting to work, you must maintain open and respectful communication with your ex-spouse. Keep each other informed about how the child is doing, their school activities, and other important matters. Focus on the child’s well-being when deciding how each of you will support the child to establish a routine. Agree on the biggest issue of how to handle a child’s financial support.

Another challenge that often crops up in co-parenting is schooling. Parents need to agree on whether the child will attend preschool and, later on, college. Some parents may feel that preschool and college are unnecessary and are satisfied when their child graduates from high school. Others may feel that preschool and college education are necessary to give the child the best opportunity to achieve a great career and have a happy life. According to NPR, no matter what you decide, the facts show that children who attend preschool are 8% more likely to go to college than kids who don’t.

Documentation and Evidence

If you are going through a custody battle, you need to present a strong case to the judge to sway the decision in your favor. To do that, you need to present documents like your daily schedule of activities, how much time you spend with your child, and your child’s health record. You will also be required to produce the child’s school performance documents, like their report cards and attendance. Lastly, you will need to keep a record of any behavioral or emotional changes and issues your child may have.

To strengthen your case further, find potential witnesses who can vouch for your parenting ability; collate letters from friends, family, and professionals supporting your case to present character references.

You may also be asked to provide income documentation like tax returns, pay slips, bank statements, and other proof of financial stability. Along with income, you should also keep track of child-related expenses like healthcare and education needs.

If you are going through a difficult divorce where children are involved, you need to find a family lawyer as soon as possible. They will help you understand the custody laws in your state and help you prepare for your hearing. To make this process less stressful, you need to be prepared to communicate with your ex-spouse neutrally and professionally.