Custody battles can be messy, and they're often destructive for both the parents and any children involved. It's best to avoid them if you can, but sometimes you have no choice. If you feel that the kids are in danger with your ex, if your ex is intent on not letting you see the kids, or if you and your ex truly cannot settle on some fair and reasonable custody arrangement, you may have no choice but to fight it out in court – and if you must go that route, it's important to make sure that you put on the best case possible. That means avoiding these devastating but common mistakes that can derail your custody case.
Losing Your Temper
Sure, you and your ex push each other's buttons. That's not surprising – if you were meant to remain best friends, you probably wouldn't have gotten divorced. But by the time you reach the point of hashing out custody issues in court, the time for sniping at each other should be over. The judge is looking for evidence that you're a stable parent, and screaming at your ex won't give that impression.
When you're in court, don't react to anything that your ex says. Maintain a neutral facial expression and let your attorney do the talking for you unless you're on the stand (and even when you are on the stand, pause to give your lawyer a chance to object if you're asked an inflammatory question. If you have to answer, do so in calm, neutral tones.)
Keep your temper when you're not in court as well. if you fly off the handle, it will be used as evidence against you in court. Assume that your calls are being recorded, your texts are being saved, your social media posts are being monitored, and your in-person interactions are being witnessed or even videotaped. Keep your cool at all costs. If your ex tries to provoke you, don't respond – let them look like the antagonist.
Missing Visits With Your Kids
While you're waiting for the court to decide on a permanent custody arrangement, you should have a temporary arrangement in place. Whatever the arrangement is, follow it to the letter. Don't reschedule visits with your kids. Don't call your ex and ask them to babysit during your time. Don't be late, and never blow off a visit.
Any of these actions can be construed as you not being fully committed to parenting your kids. For the time being, you have to treat every other commitment as a lower priority than your time with your kids. Work can be made up later, social obligations can be delayed, appointments can be skipped. It's not enough to tell the judge that your kids are your top priority – you need to show it.
Jumping Into a New Relationship
You might be ready for a new relationship with another adult. Chances are that your marriage was not good for some time before you and your ex signed the divorce papers. In your mind, it could have been over for years. So it may seem unfair not to be able to move on.
But to your children, the divorce may still be fresh, and if you're still fighting over custody, things certainly aren't settled in their minds. A new romantic partner may make you happy, but your new relationship can further aggravate wounds that haven't had a chance to heal yet for your children. The judge in your custody case isn't going to be interested in your new love story, they're going to be interested in whether you are doing what's best for your children, and if you appear to be jumping into a new relationship while they're still reeling from the divorce, you're going to hurt your case.
If you're involved with someone new, that relationship will need to go on the backburner for the time being. Stick to being just friends, or at least keep your new partner away from your kids – trying to force a new family dynamic on them will not go over well at this time. Whatever you do, don't move in with someone new when you're in the middle of a custody dispute.
For more information, contact a firm such as Anderson Legal Group, P.C.Share
22 August 2017
The laws governing child custody and guardianship can be confusing. As a family attorney, I have helped many clients gain legal guardianship over a foster child or a relative's child. Getting legal guardianship of a child you are caring for is important because you need to be able to make decisions about that child's education, health care and other matters. This blog will help you navigate the world of legal guardianship and show you how to take steps to get guardianship over a child whether the child's parents are cooperative or not. Legal guardianship does matter even if a child is not going to be adopted. I hope to help people find the way to get this done.