Divorce Law Alert - 7 Common Mistakes Made When Fighting a Custody Battle
This Divorce Alert is brought to you by the Chicago Divorce and Family Law Attorneys at Aronberg Goldgehn Davis & Garmisa and Divorce Magazine.
By Karie Boyd
For most parents, the possibility of losing full-time care of their kids is a foreign idea that holds a lot of fear, uncertainty and regret. In the past, a court always granted the mother full custody of children, but this is no longer the case. Each parent now has the right to state his or her case, and the court will decide what is best for the children’s needs. Common mistakes made by parents during child custody battles can be enough to sway the court in the opposite direction. Do not let these mistakes be the reason you lose.
1. Letting Frustration Get the Best of You
It is easy to get caught up in the volatile emotions running rampant in your head, but it is absolutely critical that you remain calm. Disrespecting the court, not complying with court orders, stubbornly refusing to take prescribed courses (such as anger management and parenting classes), and getting angry with your spouse can lead to part-time or supervised visitation rights. Do not make threats against your spouse no matter what he or she does to instigate a fight. Domestic violence is the last thing you want used against you in a court of law.
2. Badmouthing Your Spouse
Influencing your child’s affection toward yourself can cause permanent damage to his or her relationship with the other parent. Putting down your ex in front of your child implies a need to choose between you. This kind of behavior can be traumatic to children and will only serve to damage your reputation when it comes to who should take custody.
3. Missing Child Support Payments
Do not assume your spouse will be fine with a skipped or forgotten child support payment. There are many rules surrounding child support, and to overstep any one of them is to risk losing custody of your children. Missing child support payments does not bode well toward your level of care for your kids. Do not look at the payments as something your spouse won from you – consider it money toward bettering your children’s lives.
4. Putting Yourself First
It is easy to fall into a “woe is me” attitude during difficult divorces and custody battles, but even if it feels like the whole world is against you, remember who really deserves attention. Divorce is usually most difficult for the children involved. Putting your own needs before your children’s or blowing off time with them for personal reasons will only result in the assumption that you have better things to do than spend time with your kids.
5. Introducing Your Child to A Significant Other
Whether you have been seeing the same person during the last stages of a divorce or have a brand new love interest in your life, keep this person out of the child custody picture – at least at first. Your children might see it as an effort on your part to replace your spouse, and it will be much too soon for them to accept the idea of having a stepparent.
6. Taking Your Children Without Alerting Your Spouse
Even if you only have plans to treat your children to ice cream, taking them without telling your spouse will raise serious red flags. It shows lack of responsibility, failure to follow court orders, and a dangerous tendency to take the children away without notice. It will not prove to anyone that you are capable of keeping your kids' needs at heart. It will only mark you as impulsive, unstable and unfit as a parent.
7. Dismissing Your Lawyer
In nearly every type of custody battle, enlisting the help of a dedicated professional attorney will give you all of the facts about child custody and the legal process that accompanies it. Divorce professionals can protect your relationship with your children and will actively fight to ensure their proper placement.
About the Author
Karie Boyd is the founding partner of the Boyd Law family and divorce law offices located throughout California.