10 Worst Things You Can Do During a Custody Fight

May 2013
10 Worst Things You Can Do During a Custody Fight
Bad Choices will loose custody

Custody fights, are hard. The absolute worst thing you can do, is make it harder than it has to be and whether your custody battle begins as part of a divorce or through the natural transition of a relationship, it is going to be a very difficult and trying time for anyone experiencing it.

Clients under the stress of divorce or in fear of loosing the children often act or react irrationally and in ways that detrimentally affect his or her case. The unfortunate fact is that the other side may not be playing by the same set of rules and if that happens, it is natural to get upset and it is equally natural to react. Try to keep in mind at all times that the Judge will evaluate your behavior in its entirety throughout the proceedings and always behave accordingly.Ultimately, your case is unique, it is your case, it is going to be personal and expect the other parent to make it that way. But there are things you should at all cost, avoid. Which is why, in the format of the Late Night Show, I offer herein the Top Ten Biggest Mistakes Made During A Custody Fight:
No. 10: Ignore a court order or judge’s ruling.
Yes, the Judge gets it wrong sometimes, but right or wrong, the Judge will not look favorably on you if you just ignore a ruling. I recall one Judge in Collin County using the phrase; “Judges carve orders with a cleaver, lawyers do it with a scalpel.” The Judge was of course trying to express to the client that he only sees the large ugly part of the fight and with only that one glance at your life, he or she has to make a very important determination. Don’t make it worse by ignoring an Order of the Court.
No. 9: Refuse to Pay Child Support.
If the court enters an order of support and you choose to ignore it that is considered contempt of court. If the judge makes a finding that you are in contempt, you may be fined or even jailed for such behavior. As a general rule, the judges feel that paying child support is more important then any other financial obligations. Failure to pay child support appears to the court as your lack of respect for the court and lack of concern for your children.While not as big a mistake as not paying at all, a common error is to pay your wife directly. ALWAYS pay through the court registry, your attorney, or with a check and save the receipts from the bank showing these checks cleared. Your wife may later deny receiving cash payments.No. 8: Pulling a “Snatch and Grab” on the children.
This means that if you have a family vacation or other reason to take the kids out of school, out of town, or just out – tell the other parent. You are entitled to spend time with your kids, that includes going to Disney World or to visit family but if you leave town without notifying the other parent, it will look to him or her like you are kidnapping the kids. One caveat, when you do notify the other parent, do it in writing so that he or she cannot later claim you never said anything. We have been down this road on many occasions: one parent screaming “he tried to kidnap the kids, just like he said he would!” All the while the other parent, desperately trying to defend himself or herself claiming “he/she knew, we had an agreement I could go.”This is not to say the other parent has to be involved in the planning or that they have the power to say you cannot go It simply means do not make any sudden moves.

No. 7: Criticizing the other parent to friends, family, or court appointed advocates.r
Your friends or likely his/her friends or they know his/her friends. If you have been together for any period of time you have mutual friends and you should always expect friends to still talk to both parties. In other words, assume comments you make will get back to the other parent.

If the Court appointed an ad litem or a social worker to your case, be aware that they are looking intently for signs of alienation of affection, abusive behavior, and anything that will demonstrate your motive is something other than the best interest of the kids. Do not let them see it coming from you. Focus on the good relationship you have with your children and how well you communicate. Do not waste time criticizing the other parent or their family. That is easily misinterpreted as alienation of affection.

If the other party is involved in illegal drug use or otherwise engaging in behavior that is dangerous to the children, this should be brought to the attention of the case worker or guardian ad litem in a discrete manner outside the hearing of the children only after you have some form of unbiased evidence.

No. 6: Move in with a significant other.
This is not nearly as important in a modification of custody type case, but during a divorce, moving in with your new boyfriend or girlfriend sends the wrong message to the children. You need to consider for one moment, what affect this action has on your kids psyche. Divorce is difficult on the children too, and they have no say in the matter, no control over the proceedings and it is common for a child to hold onto hope that life will get better – meaning Mom and Dad will fix this.

Your love and affection for the other parent did not die overnight, you had time to process it. For a child, however, it is difficult to grasp the idea that their parents’ love for each other can simply end. When a child sees you transfer the love you once had for the other parent to a new paramour, the child may wander if your love for them can end just as easily. Additionally, children are unlikely to be comfortable around your new friend and may refuse to stay overnight or even visit your home which will prevent you from having a healthy relationship with your children.

Judges do not appreciate children being exposed to significant others while a divorce is proceeding, so until the divorce is final-and even for a while after-do not expose the children to the new boyfriend or girlfriend in your life.
No. 5: Alienating the affections of your children.
In a perfect world, children have two loving and caring parents to protect and cherish them at all times. Children thrive best in a two parent household whenever possible. If a parent makes it a habit to put down the other parent, the children feel torn and forced to choose one parent over the other. Since Judge can and often do talk to children, the Judge will be familiar with the signs that indicate alienation is taking place.

Forcing a child to choose or more likely, emotionally defend one parent is very frustrating and confusing for the children. Judges are quite familiar with the damage this behavior can cause and are extremely intolerant when this behavior occurs.

The two most common forms of alienation of affection are: criticizing the other parent around the kids and physically keeping the children from he other parent.

No. 4:Saying or doing something you would not want your mother, your minister, and 12 strangers to hear about.

You should anticipate the other side will be hiding a tape recorder on or near her person when you interact. Recorded telephone conversations are common during divorce and custody proceedings. In such cases, words spoken out of anger and frustration quickly become the rope that hangs the speaker.

Texas is a ” single party State” which means as long as one party to a conversation knows it is being recorded, the conversation may be recorded without anyone else knowing. While such recordings are legal, the problem is that the party presenting the recordings in Court will only produce those that are beneficial to that party and you can bet she was on her best behavior while recoding you screaming and acting out.

Accordingly, Do not be caught on tape saying things you would not say with the judge present. It should go without saying that any e-mail or text message correspondence can be easily handed to the judge and therefore fits within the same admonition.
No. 3: Using the children as pawns or messengers.
The children are the innocent party. They do not want to choose, they do not want to be in the courtroom, and they do not want to be involved. More importantly, the Judge does not want them involved. Adults get divorce, children get stuck with the result.  Never put the children in the middle of your divorce or custody fight.

No. 2: Yelling at the other parent or the children.
Always assume all conversations are being recorded. Even if you are not recorded, when you yell at your husband, wife, or your children you can rest assured that someone will claim you are abusive or being a bully.

Men are at a disadvantage in this scenario; in a society where men are presumed to be physically dominant and therefore more powerful then women (and of course children), women are in a position to claim they are afraid of their husband or the father of their children.

That is not to say only men can bully, there are many cases in which the woman dominates her husband or the children. Regardless of who claims fear and whether fear is authentic or not, the court takes such allegations very seriously. Do not give your spouse/other parent any ammunition for the court. A tape recording of a telephone conversation or an in-person argument will appear to the court to demonstrate you losing control and possibly becoming dangerous.

No matter how hard it becomes, fight the urge to yell at the other parent and particularly your children.

And the number 1 mistake made during a custody fight is: Have a physical confrontation with wife and/or children

Unwanted physical contact is a crime. If you touch someone in an offensive manner – if you are going through a divorce or custody fight, the other side has every reason to call it offensive – remember this rule: A hotel is cheaper than bail. Apply this rule and you will not have to learn the hard way that you cannot care for your children while you are in jail.

No matter how upset you become during these proceedings, you must not make physical contact with your husband, wife, or children when you are angry. If this is something that has occurred in the past, you need to acknowledge that you are susceptible to such behavior and leave the area when you become upset. It is much better to walk away from an argument then to be in a position where you have little or no time with your children or such time is supervised by a stranger.

While there are no guaranteed ways to win a child custody battle but avoiding the above mistakes can at least keep you in the battle.

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