The top divorce lawyers in Grand Rapids, Mi understand the importance of preparing a client to present a compelling case during a custody litigation. The single most important rule about preparing a good custody case is to keep a primary focus on your positive attributes as a parent, provider and caretaker to your children. Some people are advised that a scorched earth approach, or mudslinging campaign against your fellow co-parent is a good approach. It typically is not. If there are serious issues involved such as domestic violence, or alcohol abuse, or substance abuse, then those issues have to be addressed, particularly when the issues have a serious impact on the health, safety and welfare of the minor children involved. On the other hand, if neither party has these kinds of serious issues going on, then it is best to keep your eye on demonstrating to the court why you should be an equal co-parent or perhaps the sole physical custodian of the children. The best way to do this is by building a strong evidentiary case with the help of your attorney. This can be accomplished with the appropriate due diligence and preparation. The client should be prepared to secure medical records demonstrating the client’s involvement or attendance with children’s medical care. You don’t have to attend every single well check visit with the pediatrician but it certainly doesn’t hurt if you can. You will definitely want to demonstrate your attendance and involvement at any appointment for specialists the children might need, such as speech therapists, all counseling or psychological specialists, and all special needs appointments your child may have with respect to any physical, emotional or psychological challenge the child may face.
You must also do the best you can to demonstrate that you are a hard worker and a good provider, if applicable. Stay at home parents are as equally important as the parent bringing in the paycheck so don’t fall into the trap of minimizing the stay at home parent’s importance. You may work all day or all night but that doesn’t change the fact that you need to show the court that you are on top of the children’s needs, including health, nutrition and emotional wellbeing.
If you are involved in a church community you will want to get letters from church staff, and/or a pastor, youth ministry staff, or similar staff to demonstrate that you have participated with your child in church attendance, and all related enrichment activities or educational activities related to the church.
You must provide written proof of all educational involvement. You must be sure to provide written evidence that you have attended all parent teacher conferences. You must further demonstrate that you have kept an ongoing dialogue with teachers through email and any other means of communication. You will need to show that you have been actively collaborating with your children’s teachers and be able to demonstrate with written evidence that you are staying on top of the children’s homework, test preparation, attendance at school, getting to school on time and also addressing any extra curricular activities. It is imperative that you prove that you have supported your child in whatever extracurricular activities they enjoy, including but not limited to sports, band, music, theatre, science fairs, the chess club, etc. The point here is to be able to prove to the court that you have not only attended all of the important performances, concerts, games, or other activities, but that you have also supported the child by being a coach, an assistant coach, or supported the band, choir or theatre as a volunteer parent. It is so important to demonstrate your positive attributes as a parent who is authentically involved in all aspects of your child’s life and not just a part time parent or a spectator. If you can’t be a coach then be an assistant coach. If you can’t be an assistant coach then you better make sure that you show up to every game, every concert and every performance. Written proof from third parties, or the school, or fellow parents, coaches, castmates, bandmates, or religious groups is the best way to demonstrate to the court that you are a real parent and not just an onlooker.
There are a host of issues that the Court looks at when it comes to custody. You must have an experienced attorney assist you with preparation and navigating the Michigan rules evidence so that you are allowed to provide the best documents available and the best evidence available to support you and your custody case.
We offer free consultations and we serve our clients in Grand Rapids as well as the surrounding West Michigan communities. Please call us to set up a consultation at 616-942-6404.