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Fighting for custody: Keeping your cool in court

When you have to fight for custody, there's nothing more important in your life. It's stressful and makes you angry, but it's wise to keep your emotions in check. Fighting for custody doesn't have to mean arguing and causing disturbances in court.

When you have a disagreement over custody, your best bet is to take steps to show what kind of parent you are and to make an effort to be respectful of the other parent, the judge and others involved in your case. The way you present yourself matters. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Remember that the way the situation looks is what matters, not necessarily the reality

In court, a judge has to make a decision on what he or she believes is true. To do that, the judge will listen to both sides of a story as well as other evidence presented in court. There's more, though. The judge also sees you and how you act. He or she witnesses your reactions and the way you've answered questions. When all the factors come together, a judge has a good idea about who is not being completely forthcoming, who is an involved parent, and what is in the best interest of the child. Get on the judge's good side by making sure to come dressed appropriately. Don't speak out of turn, and be respectful of the judge's position.

Prepare solid documentation

Throwing out baseless accusations against your ex won't help you in court, but having documentation of his or her actions will. Keep documentation and records of every interaction to present them to the court. Your lawyer can advise you regarding the type of information that is relevant to your case.

Be on time

If you can't be on time for court, how can you convince a judge you'll be on time for your children? Remember, timeliness is vital in your custody case.

Your most important ally in this fight is your lawyer. He or she can provide valuable advice and guidance regarding these and other issues.

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