When you’re going through a divorce, it can be hard to handle the stress and emotional turmoil. Often, the legal aspects of divorce tend to get tangled up with the emotional and personal issues that led to the end of the relationship, and arguments over child custody only complicate the situation further.
Even though a child custody fight can involve strong emotions and convictions, it’s important to keep in mind that your actions both during and outside of legal proceedings can have an impact on your child’s well-being and your ongoing relationship with them. Letting any negative feelings lead to destructive behavior or poor judgment on your part is a quick way of painting yourself in a negative light before the judge and putting yourself at a huge disadvantage in court.
With that in mind, we’ve drawn from our years of experience with family law cases and compiled a list of seven things you should never do if you want a positive outcome for your child custody case.
- Refusing to cooperate or compromise with the other parent.
Even though you may have strong negative feelings about your former spouse or partner, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is putting those feelings above the best interests of your children. Refusing to communicate in a reasonable way could make the judge think that you don’t care about your child’s well-being and are simply out to hurt the other parent.Instead, try to keep an open and constructive dialogue with the other side. If emotional factors make it hard to do this, consider hiring an experienced family law attorney who can handle communication for you and provide valuable advice about when to compromise and when to take a stand.
- Withholding visitation from the other parent without an urgent reason.
In general, the court will not look kindly on any attempt to cut off the other parent from seeing their child without the support of a court order. Of course, there are times when you can’t wait for a court order: If the other parent or the visitation environment poses a danger to your child — for example, if you suspect physical abuse or unsanitary living conditions — then you may have grounds to refuse to allow the other parent to see them. Such instances are limited to real and immediate threats, however, and you should always consult an attorney before you attempt to violate a visitation schedule the court has laid out.
- Fighting with or talking badly about the other parent in front of your children.
Again, the welfare of your children should be your main concern, which means you can’t afford to drag them into any negativity between you and the other parent. Even if your ex-spouse or ex-partner seems impossible to get along with, it’s important to take the high road whenever you can and conduct yourself in a compassionate and collected manner.If the other parent refuses to do the same, then this can only help your custody case in court; meanwhile, if you sink to their level, then you pass up a valuable opportunity to show the court why you’re better equipped to look out for your child’s best interest.
- Exercising poor judgment on social media.
Social media accounts can sometimes seem like a private space to vent frustrations and receive support from friends, but the reality is that these accounts are completely public and anything you post on them could come up in court. If your posts include things that could lead the judge to form a negative opinion about your conduct or your influence on your child — pictures of you intoxicated or using illegal drugs, for example, or disparaging statements about the other parent in the child custody case — then they can be very damaging to your child custody case.In general, a good guideline is that you shouldn’t post anything on social media that you wouldn’t want read or displayed in open court. If you already posted something that could be used against you, however, do not delete it. The post in question may be considered evidence, and you could face legal consequences for trying to get rid of it. Instead, discuss the post with your attorney, who may be able to prevent it from being admitted as evidence or reduce its impact by reasoning with the judge.
- Disobeying a court order.
If you violate the temporary schedule or disobey any orders from the court, the judge will usually take this as a sign of disrespect for their expertise and authority — and as you can imagine, that won’t help you when it comes time for them to make a decision regarding your case.This doesn’t mean that you should agree to a visitation schedule that doesn’t work for you, however. Before you sign any agreement, you should consult with an attorney, who may be able to spot any potential problems for you and convince the judge to address them before issues arise.
At the beginning of your custody case, the judge may order a temporary schedule for visitations, or you may sign a consent order, which is an agreement regarding temporary custody. Once you’ve signed this agreement, your options to change it can be limited.
- Not taking notes.
If the other parent engages in any of the behaviors mentioned so far on this list, then you should by all means bring this to the attention of the judge — but it won’t help if you don’t have a detailed record of the events. In court, terms like “a while ago” and “this one time” don’t carry much weight. If you want to bring an incident to the court’s attention, then you should be prepared to state an exact date and time along with as much detail and documentation as possible.To make this easy, get in the habit of keeping a journal for your custody case. Take notes during every interaction with the other parent, making sure to write down details if they do something you believe is inappropriate or detrimental to your child’s welfare. You can also use your journal to document positive events such as constructive activities you did with your child during visitation time or ways in which you cooperated with the other parent. Wherever possible, take photos to corroborate your account and make note of anyone who was there to witness the events.
- Not hiring an attorney to represent you.
A child custody case can seem like a maze of legal paperwork, court dates, and visitation schedules; missing even a single detail in any of these areas can have a negative impact. Simply put, your relationship with your child is too important to risk letting that happen in a child custody case.Instead, you should look for an experienced family law attorney who can argue on your behalf in court and keep track of all the various filings, dates, and requirements. An attorney can also use their experience to present your case before the judge in a clear and compelling fashion and communicate with the other side so that personal emotions don’t get in the way of what’s best for your child.
Of course, these tips are just the beginning when it comes to approaching a child custody case. Only an experienced attorney can look at the details of your unique situation and offer specific legal counsel that addresses your circumstances and meets your needs.
Myers Law Firm Can Help with Child Custody Issues
At Myers Law Firm, we understand that the end of a marriage is never an easy time for either spouse, so we approach every family law case with compassion and understanding to search for solutions. While we excel at respectful negotiation and will work to find common ground with the other side, we are ready to stand up in court and fight for your rights with an aggressive approach if that’s what it takes.
The attorneys at Myers Law Firm have experience handling all of the major family law issues that surround the end of a marriage, including alimony, child custody, child support, property division, and divorce. We’re here if you need help. To get in touch with us, call our offices at 888-376-2889 or fill out the contact form on our website.