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Negotiate for the custody rights you're owed

As a parent, the worst thing you can imagine is having to be away from your child. That's why it's very important for you to establish your custody rights and a visitation or custody schedule that is appropriate for your situation.

If you and your spouse can't sit down and talk through your custody schedule, then you may need to prepare for custody negotiations in court. If that's the case, here are four things that could help or hurt you in court.

1. Courts assume that children will see both parents

The first thing to know is that a court will assume that both parents will remain in the child's life. Most judges will assume a 50-50 split of the child's time with each parent unless there is a reason not to allow the parents to share custody.

2. If you have a problem with your spouse's parenting abilities, you have to have evidence

Saying that your imminent ex-spouse isn't a good parent won't be enough to convince the court. You must take the time to document actions that show that they should not get as much time with your child as you or any parenting time with your child, depending on the situation.

3. Courts want to see parents work together

If you and the other parent can't work together, the court is going to notice. It's then that a judge will determine where the problems lie. If you're the one making things more difficult, then you could end up receiving less time with your child because of your actions. Always try to be reasonable, because putting your best foot forward in court will always be in your better interests.

4. Avoid interruptions in court

If you interrupt your spouse, the judge or others in court, you're going to look like a parent who doesn't know what's appropriate. You might even lose your chance to talk or negotiate. You could be seen as unreasonable. A great tip is to stay quiet and to let your attorney tell you when it's time to speak about your child or custody preferences.

In the end, you need to do all you can to protect your rights, even when negotiating for custody of your child. The courts need to see parents who are respectful and well-balanced, which is always how you should present yourself when you are speaking before a judge.

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