To prove that you are capable of acting in the “best interests of the child,” you need to establish that:
- You can provide ideal living conditions for the child’s well-being and growth.
- You pay attention to the child’s preferences.
- You don’t neglect your child.
- You have always been actively engaged in the child’s well-being.
- You have kept a log of how you fulfilled your parental duties.
- You have witnesses who can confirm that you can be and will be an ideal custodial parent.
- You were and are physically and mentally fit to take care of the child.
- You will be fair to the other parent.
To prove that you are fit to get child custody, the court has to believe that you deserve custody because you have the capabilities to serve the child’s best interests more than or as much as the other parent. And for that you need to establish the following:
Providing Ideal Living Conditions for the Child’s Well-Being and Growth
- Providing adequate and nutritious food, clothing, and medical care (physical and mental health)
- Providing the child a safe, stable, and secure home
- Providing the child with a clean environment at home without compromising on the facilities the child enjoyed before your divorce
- Providing the child with safe and reliable childcare at times when you are not available in person
- Protecting the child from any arguments/conflicts with your ex-spouse
- Addressing all concerns and protecting the child from anything that could harm him/her emotionally or physically – for example, guns, pornography, domestic violence, drugs/alcohol, etc.
- Always being on the right side of the law
- Not exposing the child to your “new partner” when you feel it could disturb the child emotionally
Paying Attention to the Child’s Preferences
A few examples:
- Cooking or ordering the child’s favorite foods, alongside, encouraging healthy eating habits
- Taking the child out for his/her favorite extracurricular activities
- Taking the child to meet the friends/relatives he/she is fond of
- Encouraging and helping the child make the right choices regarding his/her preferences
Not Neglecting the Child
- Not abusing or neglecting the child’s physical or emotional needs, nor allowing or enabling any third party to abuse the child emotionally or physically
- Making timely decisions that can help the child become a self-sufficient adult
Actively Being Engaged in the Child’s Well-Being
- Attending promptly to the child’s healthcare needs (taking him/her for regular health check-ups, including dental health)
- Being actively involved in the child’s school activities
- Spending “quality” personal time with the child, including time during holidays/vacations
Keeping a Log of How You Fulfilled Your Parental Duties
This is done by maintaining an offline or online journal (along with photos/videos) where you have recorded how exactly you fulfilled your parenting duties (for example, helping the child with school homework, preparing his/her favorite meals, taking the child for doctor’s appointment, etc.)
It is also a good idea to keep a Google calendar of the time you have had your child, just in case there is ever a question about parent-time between you and the other parent.
Confirmation from Witnesses that You are an Ideal Custodial Parent
Witnesses who know you can validate that you have always taken good care of the child, played a significant part in your child’s life, or confirm any other fact that is likely to help your child custody case. They can also give you a “character reference” letter in which they give their opinion on why you are an ideal custodial parent.
Being Physically and Mentally Fit to Take Care of the Child
You can prove this by:
- Providing medical records that suggest that you are emotionally and physically fit to care for the child
- Providing the courts with a parenting plan that proves you are committed to the child’s well-being and growth
Being Fair to the Other Parent
- Being respectful of the other parent’s rights and not obstructing, directly or indirectly, his/her visitation – the courts want to see the parents support and develop the love, affection, and emotional bond they individually share with the child
- Not bad mouthing the other parent to the child or disclosing to the child that you are engaged in a conflict with the other parent
- Not asking the child to “spy” on the other parent