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Questions to ask yourself when seeking custody

Every parent is different and no parent is perfect. This can be enormously difficult to remember if you are a parent going through the process of determining child custody. You can feel like every decision you've made and every character flaw you have is being exposed and put under a microscope.

While this can be very upsetting, you need to understand that you are not expected to be a flawless person. However, the courts will be looking at several factors for both parents with the intention of determining what type of custody arrangement will be best for your child. So while you aren't supposed to be perfect, you need to be realistic and understand there are some factors that can affect custody.

Your involvement in your child's life will be assessed, so it can be wise to ask yourself:

  • Do I make time for my child?
  • Do I make an effort to attend school functions and extracurricular activities?
  • Have I worked to foster an emotional relationship with my child?

Your ability to be a safe and reliable parent will also be assessed. You may want to ask yourself:

  • Do I have a history of drug or alcohol abuse?
  • Have I shown an unwillingness to put my child's needs over my own?
  • Do I engage in unsafe behaviors?
  • Have I been violent or abusive?

Finally, the courts will look at your ability to work with the other parent, especially when considering shared parenting. You can ask yourself:

  • Have I been willing to communicate with my ex?
  • Do I have a history of lashing out at that person out of anger?
  • Can I control my emotions in an effort to protect my child?

Once you have asked yourself these questions, you may find that there are some areas where you can improve as a person and a parent. This is nothing to be ashamed of and in fact, it can put you in a better position to take ownership of this and make an effort make a positive change.

You do not need to be too hard on yourself during this process. Remember: no one is perfect. However, you can consult your attorney to assess your situation, make some changes and work to put yourself in a position to get a fair and satisfactory custody arrangement.

Source: FindLaw.com, "Georgia Child Custody Laws," accessed on Feb. 25, 2016

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