Divorces that involve children are often very difficult. In a best-case scenario, the parents are concerned for the well-being of the child but may not agree upon what’s in his or her best interest. In some cases, though, the child is used as a bargaining chip. It’s not uncommon for one parent or another to threaten to fight the other party if custody is not signed over, using the threat of court time to get what he or she wants. Fortunately, such threats are not necessarily as effective as one might think and they certainly should not be grounds for giving up custody.
Custody is not decided by a parent deciding to fight in court, nor is it necessarily always decided by the wishes of either party in a divorce. Instead, the main consideration is doing what is in the best interests of the child, a factor that takes into account both the child’s physical and emotional well-being. Custody is certainly not as simple as being the first person to file for custody in court or even being the party that seems to contact the court most often with complaints about the actions of his or her former spouse.
When you go through a divorce, it’s in the interest of the court to make sure that your child receives as much stability and care as possible. While the court certainly cannot determine which parent is the most loving or who has the most meaningful connection with the child, the court will take the attitudes of both parties as well as the wishes of the child into account. An individual who seems to use custody as leverage will not necessarily be looked favorably on by the court, though it can be difficult to determine the reasons behind an individual’s actions.
If you are interested in maintaining any form of custody over your child, it’s important not to sign over your parental rights simply because your former spouse threatens to take you to court. If you go to court, you will be forced to abide by the decision made there, one that will likely have input from both parties as well as that of the court. If you make a custody agreement without going to court, though, it’s likely that this decision will be accepted and will become the agreed-upon arrangement going forth.
It is possible to change a custody agreement after it has been signed, but doing so can be very difficult. After all, it is the assumption of the court that you agreed to this custody arrangement and that doing so was in the best interest of the child. It would be an uphill battle for anyone who tries to fight against an agreement that he or she signed, and doing so would generally require that something significant has changed since the original agreement went into place. Making any changes would almost certainly involve the type of court fight that your former spouse was threatening in the first place.
While you cannot stop your former spouse from making threats about fighting you in court, it is well within your rights to refuse to sign over custody of your child. It’s better to have the fight now than to have it later, especially as doing so will cause more instability for your child. The agreement you make when you get divorced will be seen as the default going forward, so make sure that you fight for an arrangement that you can live with and that will provide the healthiest possible environment for your child.
If you are threatened with a fight in court, it’s vital that you work with an attorney. Not only will a good lawyer let you know how the custody process works, but he or she can provide valuable insight as to whether or not either the wishes of you or your former spouse are realistic when it comes to custody arrangements. While the best custody agreements are those that are made with cooperating partners, you should not feel bullied into accepting an arrangement that is unfair to you or to your child. If your partner is will to threaten you with a fight in court, it’s better to get that fight out of the way now than to have to deal with it in the future.
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