During a child custody dispute, parents are under a microscope. Everything they have done or said, and anything they have failed to do or say, could come up. Further, personal shortcomings can be used as a weapon by a vindictive ex.
Realizing this can make any parent panic. You might worry that you will not appear to be a good parent, or that you will lose time with your child because of some indiscretions in your past. However, the fact is that there is no expectation of perfection when it comes to parenting. So, what are the expectations?
Meeting parenting expectations
There is no precise description of what a capable parent looks like. Every child needs different things to be happy and fulfilled, and every parent brings different attributes to the table.
However, in general, parents seeking custody or access should be able to provide:
- A safe home
- Guidance to the child
- Basic necessities, including food and clothing
- A commitment to support the child’s emotional, physical and mental wellness
- An education
- Access to medical care
In other words, courts want to know that spending time with a parent is safe and supports the best interests of a child. Factors like making a lot of money or being more fun than the other parent are unlikely to affect parenting rights and plans.
Addressing personal flaws and missteps
While no parent is perfect, some people do struggle with overcoming personal shortcomings or moving past mistakes.
Under these circumstances, parents should confront potential obstacles standing between them and child custody or access. Doing so often involves being proactive in seeking treatment and receiving help.
For instance, parents who struggle with addiction can attend a rehabilitation facility. Someone with a history of violence might get counselling and complete intervention programs. Parents with certain mental illnesses may seek ongoing medical attention, medication and psychological support.
Parents who feel they can or must improve themselves to be a better Mom or Dad should not give up hope when it comes to spending time with their children. It just may take some more work.
Parents who tend to abuse the other parent in writing (texts, emails, etc) need to improve their manner of communication. Abusive communications demonstrate that you are not firsting your children’s needs. A family law lawyer can help you to improve your communication skills and can help you to avoid creating evidence that will not only negate shared parenting but also seriously harm you in court.
If you have concerns about your fitness as a parent or want to know what you can do to get into a better position to secure a parenting order that will truly maximize the child’s relationship with you, then you can should consult a family law lawyer who can guide you along the right path.