Child custody cases are difficult for all parties involved. Emotions can run high as stress and pressure mounts. It’s during these times that even the most well-meaning parents can make mistakes that result in unfavorable terms or loss of custody.
While an experienced family law attorney will provide insight and guidance on what not to do, any parent facing a custody battle would do well to educate themselves on how to best handle themselves before and during the process.
Below are some of the costliest mistakes you can make when disputing child custody. Learning to avoid them could be the difference between winning and losing your case.
Mistake #1. Going Straight to Court
It’s best to agree to an arrangement with the other parent without legal action, if possible. Doing so can save you, them, and your child a great deal of stress. Of course, if you or the other parent are unwilling to compromise to reach an agreement, or if you believe the other parent is putting your child at risk, taking legal action will be necessary and should be done as soon as possible.
Mistake #2. Not Watching What You Say
What you say outside of court will have an impact on your case. When deciding, a judge will do what they believe to be in the child’s best interest. Most people understand that their behavior as a parent reflects on this: holding a job, meeting financial requirements, and meeting a child’s healthcare needs will cast them in a favorable light.
However, all too often, parents will let their emotions get the better of them and make disparaging or inappropriate remarks about the other, either to someone directly or on social media. This behavior can be incredibly damaging to your case. A history of hostility can come back to haunt you, so it’s best to keep things professional at all times.
Mistake #3. Relocating During the Case
Your actions will be under intense scrutiny once your case begins. Even if your intentions aren’t harmful, moving out of state without a custody agreement will raise red flags for the judge overseeing your case.
That isn’t to say that you can’t move during proceedings, but you need to alert the court and the other parent before you do. This is the case regardless of if it’s the custodial or non-custodial parent moving out of state. As a general rule of thumb, all the parties involved should know if you intend to relocate.
Mistake #4. Not Keeping Tabs on the Other Parent
Ideally, both parents will work together during a custody dispute to make an arrangement that puts their child’s needs first. Unfortunately, hostilities may exist between parents following a divorce.
Suppose they act violently towards you, slander you on social media, or violate the terms of your current custody agreement by keeping your child longer than they agreed to. In that case, it’s in your best interest to document each incident with the help of your lawyer. A judge will want to see any evidence of incivility, but they won’t simply take your word for it.
Mistake #5. Setting Your Expectations Too High
All too often, people involved in custody battles don’t have reasonable expectations. Usually, they believe that the other parent is unfit, and the result they expect is a majority or total custody.
Keep in mind that what you consider unfit probably varies from how the law defines it. In especially bitter cases, one or both parents falsely believe they will get sole custody. The truth is, there is a very high standard for removing a parent’s rights.
If you believe the other parent should have limited or no contact with your child, discuss it with your lawyer. They’ll know how to raise these concerns best and what actions to take.
Mistake #6. Manipulating Your Child to Your Advantage
A parent found to have exerted influence over their child to affect a custody battle outcome will find themselves in poor standing with the court. Remember, the final result of a case will always put the child’s needs first. The behavior of both parents will play a major factor in making the final determination.
A young child won’t fully grasp what’s happening during a custody battle and will need time to process and adjust. Manipulating them in any way could prove incredibly harmful to them.
Mistake #7. Not Listening To Your Attorney
Parents shouldn’t take the advice of a divorce attorney lightly, but clients will often disregard their advice because it doesn’t favor them the way it would like. You may not get the exact terms you were hoping for, but your lawyer will have a better idea of what’s realistic. That may change as proceedings progress, but don’t assume you know what’s best simply because you think you deserve a certain outcome.
Hire A Lawyer Who Will Work With You
The relationship between a lawyer and their client is vital to the success of any legal action. It’s important that a lawyer work with you, not just for you.
Hunter Fowler will help you navigate the intricacies of divorce, custody, and personal injury matters while listening to your questions and concerns at every step. Don’t wait to hire a trustworthy and experienced lawyer. Contact Hunter Fowler today.