You’ve Won Primary Custody! Now What?
Congratulations to you! You have won primary custody of your child in court! The court has decided that you are able to provide a better living situation than your co-parent.
Because the ball is in your court, you will have to work on creating a visitation schedule with your co-parent. This will require you laying out your work schedule in order to better determine how their visits will impact your time with the child, and because you have primary custody, you can lay out the child’s schedule, with all of their schooling, activities, and miscellaneous events. Depending on the age of the child or the number of children involved, this can create miscommunication that leads to arguments if not civilly handled.
You also will have to create a home for your child. If you got the home in the divorce, then you don’t have to do much, in this regard. However, if you did not, and the home went to your ex-spouse, then you have to quickly find a place suitable for you and your child to live. Finding a home is not as challenging as creating a home, and the courts ruled in your favor, because of your ability to provide for your child. The home they need is one that includes space to sleep, space to express themselves, space to bathe, space to eat, space to watch television, space to do their homework, and space to just be a kid.
That’s a tall order, and one that requires some financial planning. A lot of purchasing a new home after a divorce is planning. The planning process should begin before the divorce, so you can assess any outstanding debt and so you can avoid being impacted by your ex-spouse’s credit rating.
During the divorce process, the previous family home might be sold. The uncertainty of the situation needs to be taken into account. However, finding the stability in mean time is what won you the case, even if that means securing a bridge loan, dipping into your 401K, or selling off stocks.
Given the fact that you won custody, you may be entitled to child support. Since child support does not take into consideration where the custodial parent chooses to live in most states, it becomes more about determining what percentage of a child’s support should come from each parent. The courts chose you because they believed that it was in the best interest of the child, and that’s not necessarily about the financial aspect. That being said, child support will allow you the opportunity to give your child a better life.
Focus on the child
The finances are not the only things you have to worry about. If your new home with your children is in a different school district, then your children are going to have to switch schools. After an incredibly challenging experience of watching your parents go through a divorce, leaving the safety and friendship of a previous school for the uncertainty and lack of comfort of somewhere new can be unnerving for many children.
It is important that you know what to do, in order to help them adjust to these new challenges ahead of them. Staying communicative and reassuring your child will help them stay positive during this trying time, according to GreatSchools, an education-based nonprofit. It may help to get your child involved in a new school activity or mapping out their day and routine. Planning and preparation will help ease the tension of all of the rapid changes happening all at once.
Changes at home can be scary. Not having both parents in your home is one change not many children are prepared for. It’s important to do whatever you can to make them feel as comfortable as possible with the new arrangement. They might be used to a parent waking them up in the morning and making them breakfast. They might require someone to tuck them in at night and read them a story. Do whatever it is necessary to make them feel at home. Children rely on the routine and comfort of a family home, and it is important that they think that you, as their parent, can provide them that home on your own.
Take an interest in some of their activities. As silly as many children’s television shows are, you watching their show with them shows that you care. You playing a game or playing catch or playing dress-up or whatever it is they like to do, with them, is important to them and helps them ease into this new situation in their lives.