When you have kids, your whole life revolves around keeping them safe and providing for their needs. This is true, too, if you are in the midst of a divorce. You want what is best for your child, and if that means you must battle for custody, that is what you will do. When a separation gets to this point, there is likely a reason, and the animosity between parents can easily emerge in the courtroom.
It is important, though, to put tensions aside and make a rational case for your custody petition. It might seem difficult to do so when you feel tempted to badmouth your ex—and have an audience to do so—but the following are approaches you should take instead when you are making your case.
Highlight your strengths
Rather than spotlight your ex's weaknesses, advocate for custody by highlighting your strengths. You might fear that your ex is unreliable and that this trait will adversely affect your kids' involvement with school and other activities. Rather than attack on this basis, though, you might explain that you are reliable and have a track record of delivering on commitments you make for your kids.
Focus on your plan
If you are advocating for primary custody with your ex having visitation, it can be beneficial to come equipped with a parenting plan demonstrating your preparedness. Similarly, if you are petitioning for sole custody, you should develop a plan demonstrating that you are ready for the responsibilities that this will entail.
Keep in mind that if you talk trash about your ex in court, the judge may assume that you are also saying these negative things to your child. Badmouthing his or her other parent can be hurtful, and the judge may even consider it emotional abuse and determine giving you custody would harm your child.