When you find yourself in the middle of a custody dispute, you need to be careful to refrain from certain activities that may have a harmful effect on your case. The following are some common issues that the other parent (or that parent’s attorney) may use against you:
- Do not say bad things about the other parent (or the other parent’s family) within hearing distance of your child, even if the other parent is making negative comments about you in the child’s presence. Not only does such behavior hurt your child, it also hurts your custody case.
- Do not introduce your child to someone you are casually dating. Your child should only meet someone if you intend that person to be around for a significant length of time.
- Do not have overnight guests of the opposite sex (who are not related by blood or marriage) while your child is staying with you.
- This should go without saying, but do not use or possess illegal substances while your child is staying with you.
- Do not consume excessive amounts of alcohol while your child is in your custody.
- Do not prevent your child from visiting with the other parent and that parent’s family, even if the other parent owes you child support. Of course, there are exceptions to this suggestion. For example, if the other parent has a habit of abusing alcohol or drugs, or you do not think your child will be safe with the other parent, you may consider allowing the parent to visit with the child while you are also present or while someone you trust (such as a member of the other parent’s family) is present.
- Do not make any major decisions about your child without first discussing it with the other parent. This includes decisions relating to the child’s education, health, religion, and upbringing, such as where the child will go to school, whether the child will get braces, or which doctor the child will see.
- Do not post anything on social media (such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, etc.) that you would not want the judge to see.
- Do not believe everything you read on the internet. You may read something on the internet that conflicts with advice given to you by your attorney. There is a possibility that you misunderstood what you read or it is also possible that what you read on the internet is simply wrong. If your attorney is experienced in family law, you should listen to your attorney’s advice.
- If the judge makes a ruling in your custody case that you do not agree with, do not send the judge a letter or email voicing your disagreement. Also, do not tell all your friends and family that you are upset with the judge or the judge’s ruling. You may one day be back in court in front of the same judge.
- Do not discuss your custody case with your minor children. If they ask you about the custody case, tell them that it is an adult matter, that both parents love them very much, and that they should try not to worry about the case. If the situation is upsetting them, consider taking them to see a counselor so that they can discuss their concerns with someone who is not emotionally involved in the case.
- Do not schedule events or activities that infringe on the other parent’s time with the children, unless absolutely necessary or the other parent agrees. If you must schedule an event or activity that interferes with the other parent’s time with the children, make arrangements with the other parent to make up for the time lost.
- Do not cancel scheduled visits with your children. This will hurt your children and will not impress the judge.
If you follow these tips, you will be in a better position in your custody case. This list is not all inclusive, however, and every case is unique. Thus, you should strongly consider discussing what you should and should not do with your family law attorney to increase your chances of getting the best possible outcome in your custody case.Also, be sure to check out the article, Child Custody: Tips on What to Do.