Custody: Keeping the Child’s Needs in Mind

Custody Battles & Your Child

Your divorce has been all-consuming. The process can be incredibly difficult and now that it’s drawing to a close, child custody is the issue at hand. Custody may have been the last thing on your mind until this point, focusing on getting through the divorce. Preparation will make a big difference in what happens during the custody hearings.

Custody Doesn’t Have to Be a Battle

Custody cases are often called battles, but they don’t have to be. Children have already weathered the effects of the divorce, and the separation of their parents. Custody arrangements will be another hurdle for them in an already difficult situation. The ultimate goal of the custody process is to find the solution that best meets your children’s needs. The court will ultimately decide on custody based on the children’s best interest, so you should be considering that as well.


In reaching a decision about custody, the court considers several factors such as:

  • What is in the best interest of the children
  • The children’s wishes, generally if they are age 12 or older
  • The relationship between each parent and the children
  • The ability of each parent to support the children both emotionally and financially
  • Keeping the children in a family together
  • Minimal disruption to the children’s lives
  • The typical schedule of each parent and time available to spend with children
  • Primary caregiving responsibilities before divorce
  • Any special needs of the children
  • The willingness of each parent to work together for the benefit of the children

Emotional Effects of Divorce & Custody in Children

Every child reacts differently to divorce. Young children may believe that if their parents no longer love each other, someday they might stop loving them. They may also believe that their parents will eventually get back together. Children in grade school may blame themselves or their behaviors for the divorce. Acting out and being self-critical is not an uncommon reaction. Teens may be angry and blame one parent, or resent both for the turmoil in their family. They are already dealing with their own struggles with independence and adding divorce and custody into the mix often results in anger. These are simple, general reactions. In contrast, some children may feel relieved by the separation of their parents if their home life was causing anxiety and stress.

Decrease the Shock

Custody outcomes can come as a shock to the children. You may be struggling to deal with your own feelings of anger, sadness, and isolation. It can be overwhelming to think about supporting a child’s emotional upheaval. While you will need to be available to your children, you can find support for yourself through other sources. Talk to your family, friends, or doctor to help you. Look into community programs and support groups to deal with your feelings so you can be emotionally available to your kids.

Discuss divorce and custody with your children. Waiting until it’s over or even nearly over won’t make it easier for them. Some suggestions:

  • If you can, talk to your children together.
  • Talk to them in an environment that makes them comfortable.
  • Plan to talk with your kids more than once. They may need time to digest the information and then ask questions.
  • Invite your children to ask questions and express emotions.
  • Explain things in a way they can understand, based on their age.

You may not be able to handle your children’s emotional reactions alone. Take them to their pediatrician or a counsellor who specializes in children or teens. By giving them an outlet to safely discuss their feelings, they will be better prepared for the inevitable changes to their lives.

Once the divorce and custody are established, children need time to adjust to the changes in their relationships with their parents. All relationships take adjustment, with one parent as the primary caregiver and the other losing the daily contact with their children. Be patient as they work through these changes with your help.

The biggest problem for them may not be your divorce. Your kids are likely already aware of tension between their parents. What will hit them hardest will be the rest of the changes in their lives. The reality hits home when they begin to deal with changes to where they live, adjusting to new financial restrictions, and moving back and forth between homes. Do your best to make these transitions as smooth as possible, and listen for expressions of frustration or desire for changes. Make sure they know you are open to talking about their feelings and give them the time they need to get used to their new living arrangements.

The Best Interests of Your Child

Throughout your divorce and custody proceedings, remember that your children will be affected by your decisions. Keep their best interests in mind from the start and keep the lines of communication open from the beginning. The lawyers in Verhaeghe Law Office are here to help you navigate the processes of family law. Call us at (587) 410-2500.

6 Expert Tips to Help You Win Your Child Custody Battle

Child Custody Battle

Fighting for custody of your child can be extremely challenging. Follow these expert tips to have the best chance of winning your child custody battle.

If you're fighting for the custody of your child, you're not alone. There are millions of parents out there going through the same difficult situation.

While it's no one's optimal position to be in, it's certainly an important one that should be taken very seriously. After all, it will change the rest of your and your child's lives.

Thankfully, there's help and support available to you. If you want to know how to get the results you deserve from your court hearing, you're in the right place.

Keep reading to learn about six expert tips to help you win your child custody battle.

1. Assess Your Unique Situation

Before you do anything else, take a step back and analyze where you are in your child custody battle. Here are some questions to ask yourself to properly analyze your situation.

Have you or the other parent filed the custody petition?

If you haven't filed for custody already, then you're not in a custody battle yet. This initial step needs to be completed if mediation is unsuccessful.

Have you attempted mediation?

Speaking of mediation, make sure that you have indeed made a full attempt at this before involving a court hearing.

If you need help, don't stress. Canada has many territorial and provincial programs to assist families.

Making sure that you've gone through these first steps before the legalities begin is important in achieving the best outcome.

2. Establish Areas of Disagreement

Before you have your court hearing, you want to be fully prepared. Pinpointing and understanding where the custody disagreement is coming from is a vital step.

This comprehensive understanding will allow you and your lawyer to come up with the best gameplan. Identify why mediation was not successful.

  • Did you and the other parent want different visitation time amounts?
  • Is physical location an issue in your case?
  • Is anyone being accused of drug abuse, neglect, or endangerment of any kind?

Review these details with your lawyer so that you can be prepared for what the other parent may bring up during the hearing, along with any evidence you can provide. You want to be as prepared as possible.

3. Get Inside the Judge's Head

Figuring out how and why a judge decides custody in the manner which they do is invaluable. There are many different factors that go into this decision, not all of which will apply to your situation.

Check out this list of possibilities of what a judge will consider:

  • Each parent's ability to properly raise the child.
  • The closeness of the relationship each parent has with the child.
  • The employment status of both parents.
  • Which parent the child prefers to live with.
  • The physical and mental health of both parents.
  • If moving to another location would affect the child negatively.
  • If a relationship with both parents is encouraged.

As you can see, not all these factors will apply to every child custody battle. But you'll need to figure out which ones apply to yours to get into your judge's head.

Take a step back and look at your case from their perspective. How do things look for you? This will help you to build the strongest case in your favor.

4. How to Prove That You Should Have Custody

Now that you've gathered all necessary information, consider these tips.

Prove You Can Provide Wellness for the Child

Show that under your care, the child will have good eating, sleeping, and exercising habits. If you encourage your child to be involved with activities like sports or music lessons, for example, evidence of this will be helpful.

Your lawyer can help you assemble the appropriate proof.

Liberal Visitation Rights

Judges tend to support parents who are open to their child having a relationship with the other parent as well. Showing that you are open to this will help your case.

When Joint Custody Happens

If the judge rules in favor of joint custody, you shouldn't feel like you've lost the battle. In many cases, this is the ruling that best suits the child.

5. Lawyers Aren't Optional in a Child Custody Battle

When your child's future is on the line, cutting corners isn't an option. For this reason, hiring a family lawyer during your child custody battle is an absolute must.

During this stressful time in your life, you should allow yourself time to process with your family and your child. Filling out paperwork and trying to understand legalities all on your own is time-consuming.

It can also lead to common or costly errors. These errors, in turn, will cause more stress and delays in your case. A lawyer will free up your time and ensure that no mistakes happen.

6. Avoid Anger

This one may seem like a no-brainer, but when people are under extreme stress, it can cause anger. When going through a child custody battle, it's important to always stay calm and positive.

A great tip is to imagine that the judge can see everything you're doing. If you reveal your anger and frustration to the other parent, you can be sure the judge will hear about it in court.

If you feel that you cannot avoid anger when in contact with them, try to minimize this contact. For example, use school as a place to pick up or drop off your child instead of the other parent's home.

You Can Do This!

We know how difficult this time can be. A child custody battle is someone no one wants to go through, but when you come out on the other side you'll be that much stronger.

Just remember to follow the tips above in order to get the best possible outcome. Attention to these details is invaluable as you prepare for and attend your custody hearing.

And if you have any questions or need assistance along the way, we're here for you. Just contact us anytime and we'd be more than happy to lend a hand.