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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 January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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