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10 Things You Need to Survive a Custody Battle

10 Things You Need to Survive a Custody Battle

While the divorce rate in the UK may have remained relatively steady since 2010, the fact that 42% of marriages end acrimoniously there remains a source of genuine concern. Regardless of whether this is the result of infidelity, incompatibility or unreasonable behavior on the side of one or both partners, the impact can be significant, especially for any children involved. According to the Office for National Statistics, 48% of all divorced couples had at least one child aged under 16 living within the family, meaning that a significant number of youngsters are affected by marital breakdowns every single year in the UK.

The divorce rate is a major issue in many other countries as well, and it remains the responsibility of parents to ensure that any subsequent custody battle does not impact negatively on their child’s psyche. Fortunately, there is a wealth of expert advice available to parents who are seeking custody of their child, which can help them to pursue a course that serves the best interests of all parties.

With this in mind, let’s consider the fundamental components of a custody battle, and the tools that can help parents to achieve their goals in an amicable and productive manner:

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1. A Clear Set of Goals and Targets from the Outset

Knowing what you want to achieve from custody proceedings and matching this expectation with the reality of your situation is a key starting point for anyone embarking on this process. From the beginning you need to fight as hard as you can to receive as much time as possible with your children. Whether it is full or shared custody, or greater visitation time that you seek to achieve, the overriding factor here is to analyze and ensure the outcome you want is an achievable goal.

2. A Level Head

Custody battles may produce an unpleasant reaction from your former partner, and this behavior may well manifest away from the court room. It is therefore crucial to remember that you are an adult who strives to set an example for your children, so never rise to the bait and keep a level head at all times. By controlling your emotions, retaining the ability to think clearly, and defending yourself in a calm and assertive manner, you can create a favorable impression, both on your legal representation and the judge who oversees your case.

3. Reputable and Empathetic Legal Representation

Regardless of the precise circumstances of your case or the subjective ideals of right and wrong, you cannot hope to win custody of your children without sound and reputable legal representation. Not only must your legal team have considerable experience in the field of family law, it is also important that they are empathetic to your needs and the emotional challenges that you face as a parent. So be sure to shop around to find the solicitor who seems the most amenable to the results that you are trying to achieve, and take advantage of the fact that the majority of firms will offer a free, thirty-minute consultation and an informed appraisal of your case.

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4. A Concise Plan of Action

Custody battles consume a lot of time; you need to keep track of many different information strands that may prove important in court or at a tribunal. This allows you to be able to consider things ahead of time and provide critical information to your legal team. Should you find your visitation rights restricted during this time, for example, it is crucial that you keep a visual record for the court of the days that you were allowed to see your children and the days that you were not. This can serve as a powerful and emotive tool during the hearing, as it showcases willingness and an underlying desire to raise and nurture your child.

5. A History of Maintaining Child Support

Maintenance or child support issues must never be aired in conversations regarding custody. The last thing you want to do is sully the fact that you are the more nurturing parent with inappropriately timed child support discussions. Court or tribunal actors may cynically assume your wish to spend more time with your children is an economic consideration, aimed at reducing your financial obligations. Ultimately, as with any situation, you must obey legislation that applies to you. If it is your name on the birth certificate and you are legally bound to pay maintenance, you must make good your obligation.

6. Documentation to Support Your Case

In preparation for your custody battle, you will need to invest in a large file organizer. This organizer will contain every important document or file pertaining to your custody battle. A certified copy of the current custodial arrangement should be the first document included in this file. You must then familiarize yourself with the duties and responsibilities placed upon each partner, and create a list of the documentation that is necessary to support your fulfillment of these. Documentation can also help to support any claims you make during the hearing, so keep a copy of all telecommunications with your partner, and use a journal to detail any violation or breaches of an existing agreement.

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7. Open Lines of Communication with Your Ex-Partner

The use of term ‘battle’ in relation to custody is misleading, as ultimately it must be hoped that both you and your former partner want nothing but the best for your children. So while looking to achieve the aims you originally set a course for, look to engender diplomacy within the custody process. Clearly much of this depends on the quality of relationship you still enjoy with your former partner, but try not to lose sight of the fact that once the court proceedings end and the legal fees have been paid, there will be only yourself, your ex and your children to consider. Without open lines of communication and some common ground going forward, it is the children who will ultimately suffer as they grow older.

8. A Skilled and Motivated Mediator

Mediation is a quicker and cheaper way to assess and decide upon custody arrangement than going through the courts. In the UK in 2012, 67% of publicly funded couples resolved their dispute using a qualified mediator. The average timescale for mediation was 110 days, compared with 435 days for court proceedings. It is expected that use of mediation as an alternative to court procedure will continue to rise rapidly. This is a different process from the traditional court route and all mediators are meant to be entirely without bias, although the process does look to compel agreement amongst the parties.

9. A Willingness to Spend Your Hard-Earned Money

In the UK, legal aid for divorce cases is only available to victims of domestic violence or abuse. While family mediation is covered by legal aid, the vast majority of private family law cases in the UK are not included within this legislation. While the situation obviously varies from country to country, if you don’t have access to legal aid this means that if you are committed to pursuing custody through the courts, you will need to invest a great deal of your hard-earned money in securing legal representation and settling all associated costs. This is something that you will need to prepare for from the outset, as otherwise you will run the risk of exhausting your funding before the case arrives in court.

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10. A Respectable Appearance and Demeanor

Regardless of the legal route taken, be it mediation or court, your general appearance and behavior will be scrutinized by the officials who take charge of proceedings. You can rest assured that this process will prove lengthy; therefore on each occasion you attend a court or mediation date, you need to look and sound your best. These must not be considered occasions to vent your frustration, regardless of how you may feel. Everything that you do within these conditions must be rational and serve to further your own case, rather than providing ammunition for your partner’s legal team.

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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