Promote Your Role in Child's Education
Every parent who testifies claims they help their children with homework and care about their education. But how do you prove that when the other party comes in with teachers and all kinds of accolades from parent volunteer groups while claiming you do no nothing? Play a large role yourself. Go obtain report cards, interim reports and school records. Note absences, progress, and performance. Learn the teachers names. Contact the teaches and talk with them. Go to parent teacher conferences. Volunteer at every opportunity. If you have not been doing these types of things, start. Then you will be on solid footing as a parent who cares about education.
Promote Your Role in the Child's Recreational and Social Development
Kids need extracurricular activities. Sports, music, dance, or any other fun hobby outside of school. They need time with their friends as well. Play a role in making sure your child is developing in these areas of life. If your child is a couch potato, get them involved in something. Push for it. Attend games and practices as much as possible. Coach, volunteer and do whatever you can to encourage the child. You will be able to show a judge you are a parent who can raise a well rounded, happy child.
Have Rules and Enforce Them
Have rules in your home. Rules for homework, behavior, chores, etc. Enforce them with punishments and/or rewards. Do not do anything extreme like spanking, but sensible rules like no tv until homework is finished. You need to show your children and the judge that you are a parent who can raise a self disciplined child.
A picture is worth a thousand words and this is never more true than in court. Have pictures of your kids, family, friends doing fun things. Have pictures of grandma, aunts and uncles and everyone who provides an extended support network for you. Have photographs of the children's room showing that they have a nice place to sleep and a place that a child would want to live in.
Know Your Children
What I mean by this is really know them in a way you can talk about them for an hour on your own. What they like and dislike. Their favorite classes, movies, books and sports teams. Know their friends and meet them. Review their social networking. Play games with them and talk. Then, talk about it in court.
Be a Caregiver
Take them, or go with them to regular doctor, dental and other appointments. Know what they doctor says. Ask questions. Be involved. Know the babysitter and make sure they are qualified. Cook and provide healthy meals and snacks. Become CPR certified if you are not already. This will show a judge you take your child's health seriously.
Avoid Things That Look Bad
Avoid simple things that will make you look bad in court. You know what you are likely to be criticized for. If the other side claims you yell and scream at the kids, try your best not to and develop some techniques you can talk about in court to deal with conflict. If your drinking is criticized, avoid large bar tabs on your credit card and do not drink in front of your kids at all. If you spanking is an issue, try something else for a while. If you are at all estranged from the, kids, get them into family counseling and participate. Finally, treat everything you say to the other parent like its being taped and for later play in Court. The same goes for writings. Be nice, but make your points.
Do Not Take No For Answer
If the other parent will allow you to do something positive for your child, continue to ask to do it (within reason). Ask in writing. Ask for counseling in writing, Ask to sign up for sports in writing. If they say no, ask politely why they refuse Always be polite, especially in writing. If school or sports information is not being shared, ask for it in writing, and then go to the source to get the information. Do everything you can to do what needs to be done, but do not start or increase conflict.