Your relationship has ended, and tensions are high. You are stressed about finances and living arrangements and your changed future. In the midst of all that, you are attempting to figure out child custody, which will determine what your interactions with your child look like for years to come.
During this time of upheaval and pressure, it is critical not to do anything that might negatively affect your custody battle. Being on your best behavior can mean the difference between getting the custody arrangement you feel is fair or not having sufficient time with your child.
Under no circumstances should you engage in a physical altercation with anyone. First, hitting someone is almost always a crime and could land you in jail. Second, it does not demonstrate the kind of stability and rationality a court looks for when deciding on custody. If things get heated, walk away before they get physical. This is especially true with your former partner or when your child is present. However, any physical altercation could have serious negative consequences for your custody arrangements.
Rare is divorce, where everyone gets along all the time. It’s okay to disagree with your former partner. But if things start escalating, it’s time to exit the situation. Screaming matches aren’t productive. If word of them gets to the judge in your case, they don’t frame you as a stable parent. If the temperature of a conversation starts rising, go somewhere else and cool off before you say anything you regret. You can resume the conversation later after everyone has had time to lower the stress and the volume.
Abusing Drugs or Alcohol
Divorce is stressful, and that’s especially true when child custody is at stake. However, turning to drugs or excessive alcohol will only make things worse. In addition to damaging your health and well-being, it can also damage your custody case. Substance abuse will create a negative impression on a judge and could call into question your ability to safely and responsibly care for your child. It can also create legal issues, which would be highly damaging to your custody case.
If you find the stress of your divorce and custody battle overwhelming, seek healthy ways to deal with those feelings rather than turning to drugs and alcohol. Exercising, talking to a friend, or seeking counseling are all more productive ways of processing your frustrations and fears, and they won’t hurt your custody outcomes.
Disobeying the Court
If you have a temporary court order requiring you to pay alimony or child support, you must make those payments in full and on time. Failure to do so could result in the judge declaring you in contempt of court, which could be harmful to your custody case.
The same holds true for temporary visitation schedules or any other rules the court has put in place. Follow those stipulations exactly. If you don’t understand them or have questions about whether something is allowed, consult a custody attorney in Weber County before doing anything that could put you at odds with the court.
Missing Meetings or Disrupting the Schedule
If you have plans to see your child, be prompt and don’t cancel except in emergencies. Failing to follow through on plans doesn’t paint a picture of a reliable parent who will create a stable situation for their child. Keeping your commitments shows the judge that you take your obligations to your child seriously.
Doing fun activities and making memories can feel like priorities during your time with your child. While that is important and having fun is good for everyone, don’t neglect everyday commitments and chores. Pulling your child out of school to go to an amusement park doesn’t show the judge a responsible parent. Spending time on homework, doing chores, or volunteering together will demonstrate to the court that you can be trusted to take on the less exciting elements of parenthood and that your priorities are healthy.
Continue your child’s extra-curricular activities. Again, this shows your ability to create a home with structure. It also provides much-needed stability for your child during a time when so many things are changing.
Keeping Your Child from the Other Parent
When you feel upset or betrayed by your ex, supporting your child’s relationship with them can be challenging. However, trying to discourage that relationship is likely bad for your child and your custody dispute. If the court interprets your behavior as an alienation of affection, it will be hesitant to trust you with your child’s emotional well-being. You can’t control what your ex says or does, but you can show your child that you are reasonable, even if the other parent chooses not to be.
If your child wants to call the other parent during your visitation, give them time to talk. It shouldn’t take over your whole visit, but sometimes communicating with the other parent is healthy and should be allowed. Even if the other parent doesn’t offer you the same courtesy, do the right thing when the ball is in your court. It’s best for your child, and it’s best for your custody case.
Badmouthing the Ex
Needing to vent during the stress of a divorce and custody battle is natural and healthy. However, be mindful of what you say. Even if you are speaking to a trusted friend, they could be subpoenaed to share what you’ve said if it is relevant to the case. That doesn’t mean you need to be paranoid, but it does mean that you need to be thoughtful about what you say and how you say it.
It’s especially critical that you not speak negatively about your ex to your child. You want to show the judge that you are striving to create a successful co-parenting relationship and that your choices will be guided by what is best for your child, not your personal feelings about their other parent.
Even though you are in one of the most stressful and chaotic periods of your life, your custody battle is a time to be on your best behavior. Act as though the judge deciding on custody is watching at all times. Demonstrate your desire to create a healthy, stable environment for your child and show the court that you aim to be a respectful co-parent.
When emotions run high, it can be challenging to make wise decisions. Working with an experienced custody law firm can help you maintain the calm demeanor you need. They know what the court looks for when making custody decisions and can run interference between you and your ex so you aren’t put in situations where you may not be at your best.
Are you fighting for your child’s custody? Then, you are also probably feeling a lot of emotions against your ex-partner and the severed relationship you have that led you to this. No matter how strong your emotions are, never act on it. There are some things you should avoid while the court is deciding on the ruling of your custody dispute. Read about that in this infographic.