Home PARENTING Custody Issues The parenting coach and how she can help you win custody

The parenting coach and how she can help you win custody

The divorce process is largely a game. It’s a game played by lawyers, judges, psychiatrists, law guardians, wives, husbands, and sometimes even the kids – especially the older ones who understand what is going on, and know that how they feel can impact the outcome of, at least a part of, the proceedings. (Blackmail anyone?) It is a very interesting game. Filled with players who often have enormous egos. And every body wants to “win.” Often nobody does.

If you are thinking about divorce, there are some things you can do preemptively to up your chances of “winning.”  We all know that one of the most contentious areas of a divorce battle is, who will get custody.  Usually the mom thinks she’s entitled to custody as a matter of right (and I frankly agree most of the time) but the fact of the matter is, where custody is concerned, the courts have become more and more gender neutral as men have begun to take a more hands on role with parenting. You only have to look at celebs like Sean Combs and Tom Cruise, and yes, Brad, to see what I mean.

That means that if you want custody you are going to have to be prepared to prove that it is in the children’s “best interest” to live with you and not with the other parent, and that is not going to be all that easy.

If you haven’t filed the divorce yet, it is good, because there are some things you might want to think about doing before you file, just to get an edge on your spouse. One of those things is to get a parenting coach. Yes, I know you think you are the best parent since Mommy dearest (okay, bad joke!). But you can always be a better parent. Or you can appear to be a parent who wants to get better and to improve your skills in the eyes of the court.

I would hire a parenting coach if I were you. I would ask my spouse (husband?) to join in. He is likely to think you are out of your mind and absolutely will refuse to do anything of the sort. Parenting coaches are incredibly “girly” to most men. They won’t go near it unless ordered to do so. And this might be good for you. Because if you are thinking about divorce, and you are thinking of winning custody, which parent do you think the court will look more favorably one when your lawyer mentions that you have been taking parenting classes of your own volition just to improve your parenting skills – which were already stellar to begin with?

Of course, this is going to be added to the fact that you are the one who spends most of the time with the kids. You take them to school, you choose the doctors and take them for their check ups. You car pool them and the neighbor’s kids to karate and yoga. You often go to the parent-teacher’s conferences alone (your husband is too busy working). You are on the PTA (you actually physically bake cookies for the annual charity drive all by your lonesome).  The kids are well adjusted, doing exceptionally well in school, and have many good friends with whom you set up play dates.

And don’t overlook family therapy (even if your spouse thinks your nuts). If you are thinking about divorce, chances are things haven’t been great in the home. Act preemptively by getting therapy for the kids. Show that you care about their emotional wellbeing.

You want to show that your husband (spouse) barely knows the kids’ middle names. He doesn’t know their birthdays. He doesn’t know the names of the teachers, he has never been to a PTA meeting, he is home well after the kids are in bed so he hardly ever reads to them or sing them a bedtime lullaby. If the kids are old enough to speak to the law guardian, I hate to say it but it is in your interest if they appear to be more attached to you, and less attached to your spouse. But in a healthy way. It can’t be overdone. (Plan on getting the law guardian on your side. They wield a lot of power.)

And when, on top of that, the judge hears that you are taking parenting classes just to learn how to be an even better parent than you already are? That’s it. Your husband will only be getting weekend visits. And he’s likely to be court ordered to take those parenting classes he refused to take when you so nicely asked him to, months before you ever filed for divorce.

With divorce, you have to pre-plan. Everything. Including your strategy to win custody.

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