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Steven E. Sufrin, Attorney at Law
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ATTENTION SINGLE PARENTS: REMEMBER THIS IN A CHILD CUSTODY FIGHT

While you were never married to your children's other parent, you may have only recently decided to break up with him or her, thus placing you in a position that is sort of like being divorced, but not. When your ex warned you that he or she was going to sue you for custody, you knew the months ahead were likely going to be quite stressful. Fighting a child custody battle as a single parent can be quite challenging.

It can also leave you feeling like an emotional wreck. You want what is best for your kids and you believe you know what that is, but their other parent strongly disagrees. This means the two of you will have to seek the court's intervention and the Arizona judge overseeing your case will decide which of your proposed plans (if either) is in your children's best interests. Before heading to court, there are several things to keep in mind if you hope to win the court's favor.

Your ex is the opposition

You might think that if you try to discuss child custody issues with your ex in a mature, adult fashion, it will help smooth things over and increase the chances that things will go well in court. More times than not, however, if you "show your hand," meaning, tell the other parent what you plan to do or say in court, it can be counterproductive.

The judge doesn't want to hear how you feel about your ex

Arizona and all other states have guidelines that judges consider when making decisions regarding custody, visitation or support issues. The court will definitely want to know about each parent's income, how much time you each spend with your kids on a regular basis and other pertinent information. The judge will not want listen to a diatribe that includes a list of all the things you hate about your ex or the reasons you think it's his or her fault that your relationship ended.

Keep your emotions on the back burner for now

Child custody disputes tend to evoke strong emotions on both sides. If you walk into court in a highly emotionally charged state, it may wind up working against you. It is far better to try to control your emotions and treat the situation like a business matter. Know your rights, learn how to protect them and gather any evidence you need to sway the court in your favor. It is also helpful to set goals ahead of time and explore what options are available to help you achieve them.

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