The Top 5 Mistakes Parents Make in a Child Custody Case
Child custody cases can quickly become difficult for both parents. Though you may no longer wish to continue relations with your former spouse, you still need to continue interactions with them in order to create the best possible scenario for your children. Not only that, you want to avoid making mistakes that could limit your interactions with your children in the future.
Want to improve the potential outcomes of your child custody case? Avoid making these critical errors.
Mistake #1: Failing to spend time with your children before and during the case.
As a parent who wants to have time with your children, you should display a history of spending time with your children and developing a strong relationship with them. If you do not spend time with your children, your former partner may use that disinterest to imply that you do not have future interest in spending time with the children, either.
Instead, take advantage of the time you have with your children. On your days, try to arrange your schedule to actually spend time with them, rather than passing them off to a babysitter or another caregiver. Spend time with your children during other times, if you can. For example, if your custody plan includes offering your former spouse the first opportunity to babysit if you need a babysitter, try to take advantage of those opportunities. Most importantly, be present for and with your child during your assigned days and times. All too many parents, overwhelmed by the divorce and their other responsibilities, miss out on spending time with their kids during that process–and it can prevent you from getting the custody arrangement you want later.
Mistake #2: Failing to take the child’s needs into consideration.
When you divorce your spouse, you are not divorcing your child. Ultimately, you should seek what is best for your child. Carefully consider your child’s needs and how they are likely to change and develop as your child grows.
Do you have a teenager? Staying in her current school may be very important to her. A younger child? Make sure your custody plans include the possibility of sleepovers, sports, and other events.
Your child may also have very definite opinions about spending time with specific family members: which parent he would prefer to have custody, for example, or staying with her siblings regardless of which parent ends up with primary custody. Keep the needs of your child at the forefront as you create a custody plan and agreement. You and your former partner can likely agree that you want what is best for your child, so focus on that and let the rest fall into place, rather than trying to use your child as a tool against your spouse or focusing on your needs, not your child’s.
Mistake #3: Not paying child support.
Child support takes a chunk of money out of your check each month. Not only that, you may feel as though you are handing over free money to your former partner. If the court assigns child support, however, you should absolutely make sure that you pay this amount on time, every month. Not paying child support can leave you with serious legal problems down the road. Not paying child support can also make it difficult for your child to get the things he needs.
If you find yourself in a position of financial hardship, including job loss, severe illness, or demotion that causes a loss in pay, you can file to modify the child support arrangement. Until you receive a modification from a judge, however, do not just stop paying; instead, assume you will need to continue paying moving forward.
Mistake #4: Making parenting decisions that cause harm to your child or children.
As a parent, especially a parent seeking custody, you do not want to make decisions that could put your child or children in harm’s way. Do not use corporal punishment. Do not make dangerous decisions: using drugs around your children, putting your children in the car without a car seat, taking your children to dangerous places or allowing them to participate in dangerous activities. While this seems obvious, some people insist that they can do what they like with their children. These decisions can cause the parents who make them to lose custody of their children, not to mention causing extreme distress or harm to the child. Instead, parent wisely. This is the time to be more cautious and carefully consider how you want to parent moving forward.
Mistake #5: Engaging in inappropriate behavior around your former spouse or, worse, the judge.
Child custody situations can bring up a lot of emotions. You may find yourself struggling to keep your cool when your former spouse shows up late for the fifth time that month or fails to include the items you need to take care of your child in their bag. You might find your temper pricked by the things said about you during the custody hearing or get frustrated when the judge does not seem to take your needs into account.
Losing your temper, however, whether you simply start shouting or cursing or try to take more serious actions against your former spouse, can serve as evidence that you are not a fit parent for the child. Ultimately, these decisions can act against you, causing you to lose custody of your children or get less visitation than you had hoped for. Instead, keep your cool and keep your child’s needs at the forefront. Try not to badmouth your former spouse to your child or to argue with the judge. While it can prove difficult to manage those emotions, your self-control can make a big difference in the ultimate outcome of your case.
Dealing with child custody cases can cause a lot of emotional turmoil. Fortunately, you do not have to handle your case alone. Contact Pedrick Law Group, APC today at 949-388-8682 for more information about your child custody case and the support you need to achieve the best possible results.