Many people going through a divorce or child custody case will attempt to put themselves in the shoes of the judge. This makes sense, after all. You can tell your attorney endless statements about your family, your children, and the reasons why you need to “win” your case. Ultimately, what you need to keep in mind is that your spouse is likely doing the same thing. More than that, you don’t need to convince your attorney, your spouse, or their attorney of a single thing. The only person you need to convince in your trial is the judge. Therefore, it makes a ton of sense to try and climb into their shoes and figure out what you need to do to impress upon them the importance of your arguments.
Rather than take the word of an attorney who spends time telling you about all the “wins” he has under his belt I recommend that you take some advice from the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our attorneys and staff are well equipped to provide you with a level of experience and professionalism that is unrivaled in southeast Texas. We have been in courtrooms with almost every judge in our area and have experiences where other attorneys merely have opinions.
The blog post that you are going to read today is a great example of that. From our time working with judges, we have a pretty good idea about what your judge will likely be looking for as far as evidence that needs to be presented in a child custody case involving young children- aged 18 months to five years. If you and your attorney approach your custody case in the same way for a three-year-old that you would for a thirteen-year-old you are doing it wrong. Your judge won’t view all of your children the same way, and you should not either. There is no one size fits all prescription for child custody success. Instead, read today’s blog post and stay tuned for the rest of the week as we continue to follow up with you on this subject.
Growth and development are the highlights of the toddler age group
As we discussed in yesterday’s blog post about infants, toddlers will likewise experience a great deal of growth and development. However, with their increased aptitude for understanding the world around them comes the possibility that your child may also experience more harshly the consequences of your separation and divorce from a stability perspective. The life that they used to lead will likely have thrown into a certain degree of disarray. Your responsibility is to provide a consistent upbringing for your child but to also show the judge that you are capable of doing so.
This period in your child’s life is crucial for establishing their independence and confidence in achieving tasks associated with everyday life. Riding a tricycle, learning to use the “potty”, picking out their clothes in the morning, and learning how to read are some of the most essential tools that your child will grow and learn from. A divorce or child custody case can potentially disrupt these achievements and stunt your child’s growth in these crucial years before full-time schooling begins.
A focus on their parents…and themselves
Toddlers are almost completely focused on themselves. They are ego-centric in the purest sense. They have little to no ability to distinguish between reality and fantasy. Toddlers also have a keen interest in the well-being of their parents because their parents are the source of their well-being. In the end, a child of this age will be able to expand their social circle to take into account friends in their neighborhood, classmates, and teachers. Still, toddlers are wrapped up in their own lives and do not yet have the ability, for the most part, to distinguish between their own needs and the needs of others.
As your child develops on through the toddler years it is important to note that their safety needs change as well. Due to your child becoming more active and better able to move around and get into mischief, you know how important it is to keep an eye on them to avoid potential harm. At the same time, children gain a powerful sense of security by learning how to control outbursts of anger, learning to use the toilet, and generally conforming behavior to societal norms. Predictable, stable, and consistent parenting is integral to their growth and development.
Emotions run freely in toddlers
The emotions that toddlers experienced are heightened when compared to older or younger age groups. Toddlers now are aware of the changes in their lives that they experience as a result of your family law case and are quick to alert you to their frustrations and sadness. If you thought it was difficult to drop your child off at daycare for the first time, imagine how your child feels the first time you drop them off at their other parent’s home to spend a weekend there. More so than infants, toddlers can be expected to regress as far as their development is concerned in areas like behavior and control over their emotions.
These difficulties are especially profound when it comes to the toddler’s understanding of why your divorce is occurring. First of all, it is unlikely that your child will even begin to understand the concept of “divorce.” Sure, they will begin to understand its consequences, but as to why you and their other parent will no longer be married it may be some time until they can understand this.
What your child often ends up feeling amid a contentious and hostile family law case is that he or she caused the breakup of the family and is somehow to blame for the problems experienced by your family. You will have to spend the time to make sure that your child is aware that he or she is not the cause of any of the problems associated with your marriage. Reinforcing these feelings is crucial.
Safety is at the top of the list for a toddler parent
In the eyes of a judge, there is no more important consideration to pay towards parenting a toddler than keeping that toddler safe from harm. The safety of children that are going through a divorce is often compromised in ways that we may not ordinarily realize. For instance, because you and your spouse are adapting to changes in your lifestyle along with your children, there are increased opportunities for lapses in supervising your child. You may even be forced to have older siblings keep watch over your younger children due to your being away from the house for various reasons.
Also, be aware that because your child may be regressing somewhat as far as their behavior is concerned that they may begin to put themselves in situations that are harmful and/or dangerous to their well-being. If your child is experiencing anger issues and is acting out, as a result, you need to temper these actions and ensure their safety. You do not want your child to hurt herself, and you also do not want your spouse to be able to use an incident against you in your custody trial.
Warning signs that signal behavioral problems are an issue for your toddler
If it is suspected by you or your spouse that your child has been acting up as a result of your separation and divorce, then you can expect that to become an issue in the custody portion of your trial. For instance, if your child seems to be overly clingy or anxious during transition times between your house and that of your spouse, you need to be able to do your best to ease your child into these times. If you can work with your spouse on helping your child to understand that he is well cared for that will benefit everyone involved.
Eating and sleeping are two behaviors of your child that will tell you immediately if they are experiencing problems adjusting to their new lifestyle. If your son is not sleeping at night- waking up in the middle of the night with tears in their eyes or is not eating as much as you are used to seeing that could also be a sign of your child experiencing difficulties associated with the family law case.
Finally, you will need to key in on how frequently your child is having angry or emotional outbursts. It is normal for your child to be unable to control their emotions to a great extent. After all, even the most mature toddler is prone to acting up and engaging in this type of behavior. However, the key to this issue is to see whether or not your child is experiencing these types of issues more now than they were previously. If a judge believes that the condition is made worse while in either of you or your spouse’s possession that could impact the ultimate custody determinations that are made in your case.
Parenting a preschool-aged child is difficult
Make no mistake, judges understand how difficult it is to parent a preschool-aged child. The energy that you have to attend to the daily needs of your child is typically diminished during a family law case. Your time, attention, emotions, and finances are being stretched thin along with your sanity. Unfortunately, I have seen many good parents feel that they are not able to give their children enough of their time during their case. This is ironic considering that these parents have all engaged in these types of cases to benefit the lives of their children.
What the judge will need to learn about you from your case
Both you and your spouse will have an opportunity to present in a trial what is known as your case in chief. This is your opportunity to present evidence to the judge that will assist him in deciding issues related to your case. You can do so in multiple ways, but typically it is done through testimonial and documentary evidence.
The judge in your case will inquire about you and any witness in your case about the following types of information
Are you able to balance your child's need to assert independence from you while also ensuring that your child is in a safe environment where his emotional and physical needs are met? If you can allow your child an opportunity to grow emotionally, learn and develop social skills that are a huge advantage that you would have in your child custody case.
How are you managing child care if you are a full-time employed parent? Both mothers and fathers work in today's world and the need for responsible caregivers is high. You need to have a plan in place that allows you to work, raise your child and have childcare available for periods when you are not home with your little one.
Young school-aged children are the topic of tomorrow's blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
As we continue to move up the age ladder, school-aged children (5-7 years of age) will be our topic in tomorrow's blog post. We hope that the information we have shared with you on young children has been interesting and helpful. As we begin to talk about older children we value your feedback and questions.
If you would like to speak to one of our licensed family law attorneys about your particular circumstances, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. We offer free-of-charge consultations six days a week in which your questions can be answered and your needs addressed. It is an honor and a privilege to be able to represent people in our community just like you.
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Other Articles you may be interested in regarding Custody
- Child Custody Basics for Texas Parents Revisited
- When Can a Minor Child Weigh in on Custody Decisions in Texas?
- Texas Child Custody Modifications
- Amicus Attorneys in Child Custody Disputes in Texas?
- Sole Managing Conservator in a Child Custody Case in Texas?
- Teens with Children, Child Custody and Child Support in Texas
- Child Custody and Divorce in Spring, TX
- Custody and Visitation Rights of Grandparents in Texas
- 11 Things You Must Know About Texas Child Custody
- 12 Texas Custody & Conservatorship Battle Tips
Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas Child Custody Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding child custody, it's important to speak with one of our Houston, TX Child CustodyLawyersright away to protect your rights.
Our child custody lawyers in Houston TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles child custody cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County, and Waller County.