If you are trying to obtain custody of your child in South Dakota, you know that a court’s decision is guided by what is in the child’s “best interest.” In making this determination, a court carefully examines each parent’s behavior. Essentially, if you are seeking custody of your child, you must convince a court of your strengths as a parent and, in some cases, the other parent’s weaknesses.
Here are 10 more tips that you should understand as you approach a South Dakota child custody case:
Tip #1 - Be aware of the ratings of the movies you permit your child to view.
Tip #2 - Know your child’s teachers, doctors, school counselors, scout leaders, coaches, etc. These people often make excellent witnesses. Attend school functions and parent conferences.
Tip #3 - Discourage your child from calling persons other than the other parent “Mom” or “Dad.” You do not want to do anything that appears like you are trying to take the child away from the other parent or to replace him or her in any way.
Tip #4 - Never belittle, humiliate, or berate your child.
Tip #5 - Do not say anything negative about the other parent, his or her relatives, or new partner in front of your child.
Tip #6 - Do everything you can to boost your child’s self-esteem. Your ability to make your child know that he or she is special is very important.
Tip #7 - If you have been taking any recreational drugs, stop immediately. Do not have any paraphernalia in your home. Traces of many drugs remain in your body for a long time, so recreational use, even when your child is not present, can be very damaging.
Tip #8 - Keep in contact with potential witnesses so that they can easily be contacted if they are needed to testify. Make sure you have their current addresses and telephone numbers.
Tip #9 - Any mental health professional you may wish to call at trial must be selected with great care. Many excellent counselors do not testify effectively in court. A doctor of psychology or a psychiatrist has better credentials for courtroom testimony than others. You may be at a disadvantage if your witness has less training or experience than the other parent’s witness.
Tip #10 - If you are seeking a change from a prior custody order after your divorce has become final, the testimony may be limited to events that have occurred after the last custody order.