A custody battle is often an emotionally charged experience for any parent. While you likely have your child’s best interests at heart, it isn’t uncommon to get swept away by feelings of frustration, anger, and grief.
These unchecked emotions may cause you to make mistakes that could affect the outcome of your custody case. Stay proactive by reviewing these 5 major mistakes so that you can achieve the most favorable result for both you and your child.
1. Airing Your Dirty Laundry Online
Custody battles may be very stressful, and it’s natural to want to vent to others. Many parents use social media as an outlet to share frustrations and details about their private lives. While a photograph showing your night on the town with a date or status update about the latest court order might seem harmless, they may have serious consequences.
As private as we try to make our social media profiles, they are never truly secure or confidential. Information can be easily shared and/or saved even if deleted. Status updates and messages may be retrieved by forensic experts, and then appear before a judge or on display in court if you’re not careful. Never share anything online that you wouldn’t want to appear in court and used as evidence.
After your custody case is settled, be sure to follow the same social media policy. It can be tempting to broadcast your new beginnings to your followers and friends, but err on the side of caution. If or when other legal matters arise, you don’t want to hand additional evidence and information to your ex.
2. Invoking the Silent Treatment with the Other Parent
After a divorce, it’s natural and healthy to set boundaries with your ex-spouse and/or co-parent. While you are in a custody battle (and most likely, after), you’ll have to communicate with the other parent about your child’s health, school, routines, preferences, and more.
Cutting off all communication can backfire in several ways. First, being able to communicate and make decisions with the other parent is advantageous to joint legal custody. If you’re unable to settle on joint custody, it will be up the judge to make decisions, and he or she may decide that only one of you should have legal custody. The silent treatment may leave you with little to no legal say in your child’s life even if you’ve been the primary caregiver.
While it may require you to bite your tongue from time to time, working with the other parent is in your and your child’s best interest. Be cordial, reasonable, and cooperative even if your ex-spouse or partner is unwilling to do so.
3. Making Big Changes to Your Child’s Routine
Maintain your child’s schedule and normal routine as much as possible. Lots of disruptions and changes are not looked on favorably by judges in child custody disputes. Make an effort to ensure an optimal environment is provided for your child so he or she is successful at school and other activities and has plenty of time with family and friends.
If you’re the primary caregiver, be sure to include the other parent in any decisions about major schedule changes. On another note, avoid introducing your child to any new partners while custody is being decided. While you may be dating already, it’s best to keep your child’s domestic setting stable during this time.
4. Ignoring Court Orders
Following court orders is one of the most effective ways to demonstrate your parenting skills and ability and desire to provide the best for your child to the court. The court has likely created a schedule for you and the other parent to follow. Always review the custody schedule with your attorney, carefully, before signing. These schedules can vary from the child staying with each parent every other weekend to splitting up the day between parental residences.
While the schedule may require some “juggling” of responsibilities on your part, follow it to a T. You’ll have to plan some outings in advance and may need to turn down some invitations. Make sure that any changes to the schedule is agreed upon by both parents. Any failure to follow the schedule on the part of the other parent should be recorded, which brings us to our last point.
5. Failing to Record Interactions
Keeping a solid record of your child’s interactions with the other parent will help your custody case. Always make note of any unapproved schedule changes and any unhappy thoughts or feelings your child shares with you about the other parent (provided that they are truthful). Always save any abusive or threatening text messages, emails, phone calls, and letters.
By that same token, keep in mind that your ex-spouse or partner is likely recording your interactions as well. This is why it is worth repeating that continuing to be cooperative and positive is always in your child’s best interest, as well as your own.
The experienced attorneys at Wendy Satin Law have successfully represented countless clients in the Maryland and Washington D.C. area. Find the legal guidance and representation you need during the stressful time of a child custody battle by contacting our office at 301.762.1000 or visiting our website: www.wendysatinlaw.com