While a child custody case is ongoing, it is critical that you do not give the other parent ammunition that can be used against you in court. This may mean restricting some of your normal activities, but in the long run, doing so is in the best interests of your child.
Using Social Media
It’s best to just avoid using social media entirely, but if you can’t wean yourself off it, at least use it sparingly and avoid personal posts, including venting about the divorce. You might be surprised at what seemingly innocuous posts could be used against you in a child custody case.
Taking the Child Out of the State or Country
Your child’s grandparents may live just across the state lines and your visit to them may be entirely innocent, but the other parent and the legal system might not see it that way. You should get written permission from the court and the other parent to take the child out of state or out of the country even for a family visit to avoid being accused of child abduction.
Being Difficult in Court
It may seem unfair, but how you conduct yourself in court may affect how the court perceives you and how willing it is to grant you child custody. You should dress appropriately for court, observe etiquette and speak respectfully to the judge. An attorney may be able to assist you in reviewing appropriate courtroom behavior.
Avoiding the High Road
Both in and out of court, you should also avoid getting into unnecessary confrontations with your spouse. This may seem unfair as well, particularly if your spouse is difficult to get along with, but a court will be less sympathetic toward you if you appear to be unwilling to cooperate with the other parent. Keep in mind that child custody is all about the best interests of the child and not about trying to score points against the other parent.
Being Unreliable for Child Pickups
While a child custody case is ongoing, there may be a temporary schedule in place for child custody and visitation. Every parent is going to be late now and again or will need to make a change in the schedule sometimes, but unless an emergency has happened, you need to show up on time. A failure to do so regularly could jeopardize your bid for child custody.
Abusing Drugs or Alcohol
You need to avoid even the appearance of abusing drugs or alcohol during a custody battle, and that might mean sometimes saying no to a single innocent glass of wine. In a contentious custody battle, the other parent might use this against you. Using drugs and alcohol irresponsibly is out of the question and could result in supervised visitation or even no access.
Withholding the Other Parent’s Access to the Child
If you genuinely believe a child is in danger with the other parent, you may want to keep the child away from the other parent, but keep in mind that you will have to prove to courts that this is the case. You cannot block the other parent’s access to the child because the parent has not paid support, because you are angry at the parent or because the parent is consistently late or unreliable about spending time with the children.
Moving in With a New Partner
This is another action that could cause a court to question your judgment and fitness to be a custodial parent. This is a disorienting time for children, and having a significant other move in could increase that sense of instability. It is best to wait until after custody has been decided to make this move.
Criticizing the Other Parent
Outside of serious issues such as abuse, you should avoid criticizing the other parent to the judge, social workers and above all to your children. Courts believe in encouraging a child’s relationship with both parents and do not look favorably on attempts to interfere with these relationships.
It is best to consult an attorney regarding what you can and cannot do during a custody case. Some actions may actually be illegal while others may be legal but could sway a court’s decision. With an attorney, you can work out a strategy that allows you to try and get the custody and visitation schedule that you are hoping for.