We know that divorce is not easy. And for those who are not married but dealing with child custody and parenting time issues, the legal process can be emotionally draining. Indeed, we all have our different coping mechanisms, but knowing how the law works (especially legal terms) can quell some of your fears.

This post will introduce some basic concepts and provide some guidance on how to handle the fear of the unknown. 

What “sole” custody actually means – Parents become enraged when they find that their soon-to-be ex has asked the court for sole legal or sole physical custody. This has the connotation that one parent will be completely ostracized from the child’s life, or that they will no longer have any decision-making authority. The reality is that few parents are severed from their children through custody rulings; especially considering that courts strongly support the notion that both parents should be actually involved in their children’s lives. Suffice it to say, don’t get discouraged with the terminology.

Focus on realistic goals – Once you have a better understanding of what you are legally entitled to in regard to custody, it is time to hone in on what would be best for the child as well as your relationship with him or her. It is (unfortunately) very easy to give in to the temptation of annihilating the other parent, but you are more likely to endear yourself to the court by focusing on the child’s best interest.

If you have questions about how to prepare emotionally for a custody dispute, an experienced family law attorney can advise you.