Building meaningful relationships with important people increases your chances of success in all facets of people’s lives. If you’re going through a high-conflict divorce and child custody matter, you’ll need to recognize that there is likely no greater arena where building and maintaining good relationships with important people is one of many ways to improve your chances to maximize child custody.
It goes without saying that the most important relationship with the most important people in your life, the children, dwarfs the others by comparison. The bonds that you’ll build with your children are not achieved by going all “Disneyland” with them, regardless of your custodial arrangement. Yes, it’s hard to avoid that pitfall, but it is a pitfall. It takes a great deal of work with limited time to present what many of us define as a “normal household.” Still, it must be done. Normal routines and rituals establish the foundation of a parent’s expectations of their children and the children’s understanding of those expectations. Regular meal times, regular play times, bed times and associated rituals, chores, homework – all should remain a key role in your household operations, even if you’re an every-other-weekend parent. Never forget that children need structure, boundaries, rules, rewards, and discipline from both parents. While you cannot control what the other parent does, you can control what you do. Show your children how a “normal household” operates and be consistent.
However, that very often is not enough. There are other important relationships which must be established, cultivated, and maintained in order to demonstrate that you are a well-rounded, well-informed, and well-involved parent. Here are some:
- Relationships with your extended family
Often looked up by the family court as “the support network” for you and the children, good relationships with the family are very important.
- Relationships with neighbors
Good relationships within your community and being able to demonstrate community involvement for both you and the children will establish the foundation of good citizenship.
- Relationships with children’s friends and their parents
This is more of the support network. It’s not about being extremely friendly with all of them. It’s about knowing who they are and keeping the lines of communication open both for all of the kids’ protection, but knowing what everyone is doing, what they like, what they dislike, etc.
- Relationships with educational personnel
Knowing and interacting with the children’s teachers and other education staff is extremely important and demonstrates active participation in the kids’ educational growth and future success. Regular “check-ins” with teachers, especially via emails you copy to yourself, will provide evidence of your involvement that is indisputable against false accusations to the contrary.
- Relationships with medical personnel
Knowing your children’s pediatrician, counselor, therapist, etc. and keeping informed about their health and well-being is critically important.
- Coaches and/or staff who manage the children’s extracurricular activities
Maintaining relationships with such people also demonstrate your involvement in other enriching programs in which your children may be enrolled.
The above list is just a sample. Always be cognizant of the reality that being able to demonstrate that you have established and maintain relationships with all of the important people in some way involved in your children’s lives is another extremely important component in fighting for and getting the maximum amount of child custody to which you and your children are entitled once the marital/romantic relationship has ended.
Establish these relationships. Build these relationships. Maintain these relationships. Doing so will strengthen your case for maximum child custody, build a well-rounded child, and contribute to your own overall well-being as well. Written communication is key and always remember to copy yourself on emails sent, saving your contact messages and all replies to them for potential future use.