If you’re in the middle of divorce proceedings, you’re probably already under a lot of stress, but if you’re also dealing with a custody battle, it’s possible that the added pressure could cause you to make a mistake that would lead to a loss of custody. Hiring a divorce attorney can help you avoid making these critical mistakes.
7 Things to Avoid During a Custody Battle
Do Not Get Into a Verbal or Physical Altercation
This is the number one mistake that divorcing parents make when they’re caught up in a custody fight. Tempers can flare between the parents, who are usually already angry with each other, and those hot tempers can lead to verbal or physical altercations. However, always keep in mind that the consequences of these fights are almost never worth the release you may feel during the fights. Plus, if you’re the instigator, your chances of winning custody may drop significantly.
The best way to handle rising tempers is to walk away, especially if your children are present. Verbal and physical fights are never good, but if your kids witness one, it makes them even worse. Tell your soon-to-be-ex-spouse that you’re not going to engage in a fight with them and leave the situation. If your former partner follows you, then they will have to deal with the consequences, but you won’t. Be sure to document the incident right away.
Do Not Introduce Your Children to a New Partner
No one is saying you can’t ever date again or that you should be single for the rest of your life, but we are saying that the timing of your relationships matter. If your custody arrangement has not been finalized, you don’t want to do anything that your former spouse could use against you. This includes introducing your children to a new romantic partner, since it could appear that your love life takes precedence over your relationship with your children.
Another reason that bringing a romantic partner into your life during a custody fight isn’t a good idea is that your children could easily get confused by the new situation. They may not like the new person in your life, which could turn out badly for you, especially if your children complain to your ex-spouse. Even if your divorce has been finalized, but your custody situation is not yet settled, keep new relationships low-key and away from your children.
Do Not Criticize the Other Parent to Anyone
You probably already know not to criticize the other parent in front of your children, but you should also refrain from criticizing them to anyone, including your family members and friends. You may think you can trust them, but until your custody arrangement is finalized, your words could easily make their way back to the other parent and their lawyer. In fact, even if they don’t say anything, your friends or family members could be called to testify.
If they’re called as witnesses during custody proceedings, they won’t have any choice but to say what they know about your situation. If you’ve said anything negative toward your former spouse, it may be brought up in testimony and won’t make you look very good. The best way to avoid this situation is to never create it in the first place. Keep all criticisms to yourself so that the custody arrangement is based solely on what’s best for the children.
Stay Off Social Media
It can be so tempting to post your frustrations about your custody case on social media. After all, you may be feeling isolated during the proceedings, and getting words of support from your friends can be uplifting. However, we have to caution you against making any statements on social media about your case at all. Even if you think your posts are entirely private, they can still be copied and shared with people outside your circle.
Additionally, remember that social media is forever. What you write on a social media platform can be captured for all time, meaning even if you only posted something out of frustration and you delete it later, it may be too late. If your ex-spouse sees a post that can benefit their case, you can bet they’ll use it against you in court. As much as you may need support during this time, it’s better to stay away from social media.
Do Not Neglect Your Parental Responsibilities
You may already have been ordered to provide child support while the custody proceedings are ongoing, and if you have, you must meet these obligations on time, every time. Do not give the court a reason to say you’re not a responsible parent by missing a payment or withholding it for any reason. Moreover, be sure to keep your visitation appointments and comply with any other court-ordered assessments and evaluations. Even if they’re not court-ordered, be flexible and dependable.
No matter how frustrated you are with temporary custody arrangements or how difficult it is to meet your financial obligations, you must adhere to them during the custody fight. Keep in mind that your former spouse will be looking for any reason to paint you in a bad light so that the custody ruling goes their way. If you miss a payment or have to constantly change your visitation days, you’re giving them ammunition to use against you.
Do Not Keep Your Children From Seeing the Other Parent
As long as your ex-spouse is legally allowed to see your children, you should abide by the law and allow them to visit each other. Keeping your kids away from the other parent is illegal and can land you in extremely hot water with the judge. You can be held in contempt of court and be required to spend time behind bars. Even if you don’t like sending your children to the other parent for visitation, you must do it.
Certainly, if you feel like your children are not safe with the other parent, you should take legal steps to protect your kids. Hiring a divorce attorney is the first thing you should do if you suspect your children are in danger during their visitations with your former spouse. Your attorney will help you follow the legal path toward investigating your claims and limiting the other parent’s visitation rights as deemed necessary by the court.
Keep Your Children’s Lives as Normal as Possible
Your divorce is going to affect your children no matter what you do, but it’s critical that you attempt to keep their lives as normal as possible during the custody fight. This means they should continue taking part in any sports or activities they were in prior to the divorce and, if at all possible, they should stay in the same school they were in. Not all circumstances will allow this, but you want to keep disruption to a minimum.
You should strive to be visible at your children’s activities and show up even if you’re not the parent who has them that day. This shows your involvement in their lives and your commitment to supporting them even when they are with the other parent. Even if you don’t want to see your former spouse, keep in mind that going to your kids’ activities is about them and their well-being, which is the most important thing.
Custody cases are extremely emotional and if you’re not careful, you could make a mistake that has dire consequences. Contact our divorce and child custody experts at Skillern Firm today to make sure your rights are protected throughout the proceedings.