Filing for paternity or divorce in the state of Florida can be a complicated and stressful process. We have compiled a list of things that you should do and should not do when you are dealing with a paternity or custody battle that results from a divorce proceeding. These points are important for the well being of yourself, your child, and your family.
Top 5 Things to Do in Divorce / Paternity Cases:
Do: Be the “Good Guy”
Dealing with a paternity or custody proceeding that emerges from a pending divorce can create one of life’s most stressful situations and the desire to act poorly can arise easily if things aren’t going according to what you have in mind. At this time, it is important to slow down, and focus on doing the right thing at all times. You must work through this to have a positive and healthy relationship with your child, and this must remain your focus.
This is the right time to get your finances in order to show that you can provide for the child. If a child support order has been made, make sure to make all of your payments on time.
Do: Be Present
The situation may not be perfect, but you must make the most of the situation. It doesn’t have to be big, sometimes it’s the little things that make the best memories. Cook for them, take them to the park, play a board game with them, this time does not have to expensive or extravagant. Doing these things will also remind you of what you are working towards: spending quality time with your child.
Other things to remember are to try to maintain a routine for your child as close as possible to the way it was prior to the paternity or custody proceeding. This will help to make the transition to your child’s new life much easier.
Also, be there for your child when you say you will. Attend school plays and doctor’s appointments. This will make the process easier for your child because they will see that you are there, and that you care about them.
Do: A Self-Assessment
During this time, it is important to step back from the situation and make improvements where you can in your life.
How can you be a better parent to your child? What things can you do to make your life more child friendly? Would it be better to switch shifts at work, or find an apartment closer to your child’s school to request a better time-sharing arrangement? Working for paternity rights or fighting for your fair share of time-sharing with your child can be difficult, but the more that you show interest and desire to provide a safe, happy, and healthy environment for your child the better the judge will see your case, the better your co-parenting relationship will be, and ultimately, the more happy your child will be.
Do: Keep Track of Everything
This part of the process can seem daunting, but it is important to establish patterns and keep track of events as they happen. Do not rely on your memory to serve you when questions are asked. Also, keep track of any important documents and make copies as necessary.
Record any issues that may breach a time-sharing agreement: late picking a child up or dropping them off, not paying for a child’s tutor, or failing to pay child support. Remember, you want to be the “Good Guy” so having solid evidence that you are doing the right thing is important.
Any issues issues concerning your child should be communicated via email with the other parent to avoid any situations of “he said/ she said”. Our recollections of particular events are not always crystal clear, and having things in writing makes things easier for everyone. This also offers you the ability to really think about what you would like to say in a particular situation. If you are not happy, you may say something that you will regret, while an email will allow you to stop and make a more calculated decision.
Do: Consult with an Attorney
Paternity proceedings or custody battles that emerge from a pending divorce are complicated matters in the state of Florida, and getting the correct legal advice for your situation is critical. It is important that you are transparent with them about your personal history, your current lifestyle, and your desires in terms of your relationship with your child. The more information that your attorneys have about you, the better they can serve you. This is true for both mothers and fathers.
Top 5 Things Not to Do in Divorce / Paternity Cases:
Don’t: Talk Negatively About the Other Parent
Talking negatively about the other parent does not put you in the “Good Guy” category that we are working towards. Avoid arguments with the other parent, and remember that anything you say can be used against you. This includes irresponsible emails, catty tweets, or questionable Facebook posts or photos.
You also don’t want to criticize the other parent or yell at them, especially in front of your child.
Your ability to have a positive co-parenting relationship will also allow you to have a positive relationship with your child, so don’t do anything to fuel a potential fire there. You may not receive the same attitude in return, but you must work to stay above this. Don’t let your short term anger or frustration get in the way of the long term goal: having a healthy relationship with your child.
Don’t: Get Your Child Involved
Fighting for your paternity rights or getting your fair share of time-sharing with your child, is your battle, not your child’s. Therefore, they should not have input in the situation as they often times will tell each parent what they think they want to hear. This puts a lot of pressure on the child and creates stress in their life that is unnecessary.
Do not share your grief, fear, or anxiety with your child. This will create those same feelings for the child. This also includes speaking negatively about the other parent in front of your child. Remember, your child loves both of their parents, and you do not want to create an environment where they do not feel like they can do that.
Rather than expressing your negative emotions, make sure that you are opening a space for your child to discuss their negative emotions if they feel they need to. You want to be a safe place for your child to work through their own emotions.
As a parent, it is your job to deal with the situation in the best way suitable for the child, and that means keeping them out of it, and helping them through it!
Don’t: Let the Situation Affect Your Time With Your Child
This will take time, effort, and practice, but it is important to be positive and enjoy your time with your child. You may have an argument with the other parent, or things may not go as well as you had hoped in court, but you cannot let this affect your time with your child.
Your child wants to love you and be loved, and it is your job to create a space for them to do that. Do not bring adult situations or emotions to the child that may affect your time with them.
Don’t: Forget the Ultimate Goal
This means that you need to keep in the front of your mind the best interests of your child. A horrible custody battle will be difficult for your child, too. The long term plan is to create a loving, healthy environment that your child can thrive and be happy and successful in.
Photos of your child throughout your home, office, and even the wallpaper on your phone will remind you of what you are working towards and stop you from doing things that may hurt your case down the road.
Maintain a positive attitude, and always do the right thing, even when you may not feel like it.
Don’t: Do This Alone!
This is the time to seek out your support network. Maintain positive relationships with your friends and family, and don’t be afraid to rely on them as you deal with this. You want to maintain a positive attitude, and not get lost in any negative feelings and emotions. Also, don’t forget, your attorney can be one of your greatest allies as well. They will have the best legal insight about your case which can be comforting throughout the process.
At Seff & Capizzi Law Group, we take pride in our knowledge and ability to fight for your paternity rights or guide your through the legal process in a divorce proceeding. We can help you to determine the best course of action for your family today. Call us today at (954) 920-9220 to discuss your divorce or paternity case.