You’ve been there for every day of your child’s life. You were there when she opened her eyes for the first time, when she took her first steps, when she rode her first bike… but, you may not be there for the next “first”.  You are getting divorced, and both of you want custody.

A custody trial is very difficult for both parents and children. Unless you child is very young, she will know what is going on. She may feel pressured to choose between her parents or she may act out.

No matter how much you want to keep the trial civil, it will be difficult. You will need to honestly discuss why you are the better parent. This might mean that you talk about your spouse’s depression. You might have to talk about the hours you’ve spent holding the family together as your spouse brooded in a dark room or the times your spouse wasn’t there to help. And, you’ll have to remain civil and polite despite the strong emotions.  Losing your temper could cause you to lose your case.

Your spouse will do the same to you. Your spouse won’t just mention your inability to stick to a budget or your quick temper. He’ll put those qualities in the worst possible light. This can cause hurt feelings and make it very difficult to co-parent after the divorce. Whenever it is possible, the Philadelphia family lawyers at Petrelli Previtera urge parents to come to an amicable agreement.

But, this isn’t always possible. If you and your spouse can’t agree, a custody trial is inevitable. You will need to prepare in order to protect yourself and your child.

  1. Use a calendar to track the time spent with each parent.
  2. Keep a journal. Record any unfavorable incidents involving your child and your ex-spouse. Write down the times that your ex missed visitation or brought your child home late. Make a note if your child didn’t finish her homework when she was with the other parent or came home in the previous day’s clothes. Take a picture if your child is brought back on a cold day without her coat.
  3. Keep track of the things that you do with your child.  You might not think it’s a big deal, but the time you spend volunteering in the classroom, hosting playdates, or helping with homework counts just as much as the trip to the zoo with the other parent. Again, take pictures. A smiling child showing off a school project demonstrates your parenting skills.

Your Philadelphia family law attorney will be able to tell you about child custody laws in your jurisdiction. He’ll you what to expect during the trial and review proper courtroom etiquette. To discuss your child custody case, please contact Petrelli Previtera, LLC at (215) 523-6900.