In the divorce process, having a zealous advocate can be crucial for achieving the best results. This is particularly true of financial matters such as property division, debt division, tax and retirement issues, and spousal support. In these areas, the role of an advocate is to make sure the court has the information it needs to make a decision that reflects the interests of the parent the advocate is representing.
When it comes to child custody and parenting time, an advocate is still important to have, but the aim is a bit different. The central concern in every child custody proceeding is the best interests of the child. It is important to understand that the court does not make child custody determinations based on the rights or interests of the parents, but on what will best promote the health, safety, welfare and development of the child.
What a zealous advocate will do in child custody proceedings is, first of all, to make sure the court has all the information it needs regarding any factor relevant to the best interests of the child. This includes information about the child’s relationship with the parent, as well as the other parent. It includes information about the character, behavior and lifestyle of the other parent. It includes information about the parent’s ability to provide a loving, stable environment for the child. It also includes information about a parent’s ability and willingness to cooperate in a shared custody arrangement.
Not only must information be provided to the family court judge, but the information must be presented in the proper light to highlight a parent’s ability to promote the well-being of the child. Factors that reflect negatively on the parent can and should be appropriately minimized, and positive factors can be highlighted.
It is particularly important to work with an experienced advocate in the child custody process when the other parent is aggressively attempting to paint the parent in negative light or make false accusations of abuse or neglect. Whatever the circumstances may be, an experienced advocate can ensure that the court is positioned to make the best possible custody decision.