Not being awarded custody of your children, or losing custody of them, is easier than you think. The court’s priority is to make decisions in the best interest if the child. As a parent who desires to get custody of their child in a divorce, if you keep the child’s best interests – not your convenience – at the forefront of your mind when you are making decisions that involve them and that will affect their future, you will stand a better chance of being awarded the parenting time that you desire. If you want to know how easy it is to lose your chances at child custody, read on.
1. Venting your frustrations on social media
If you are someone who uses social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, Twitter or any other, you might want to adopt a mental filter through which you can choose whether what you are going to post might be appropriate. If you feel completely comfortable with the judge seeing what you are getting ready to post, then go ahead and post it. If you would not want to see what you have posted being used against you as evidence, then do not do it. Find a trusted friend or a counselor to be a supportive, listening ear. Don’t provide free ammunition that the opposing side can use against you in a custody challenge.
Remember, too, that you can only control your own actions, not the actions of others. Even if you set your accounts to “private,” your posts could still be used against you if someone else shares them. If you feel like you have to vent, use an old-fashioned journal.
2. Not being the child’s primary caregiver
Do you prepare the child’s meals? Do you know about their food allergies? Do you know whether they like bubble baths or which is their favorite pair of pajamas? Do you know the names of their teachers?
It’s not that you need to know every single thing – kids surprise us all the time, after all – but you need to prove you are engaged in caring about your child. If you have custody but your child spends more time with a babysitter, or if your food is stocked with peanut butter even though your child is allergic, your ex could use that as ammunition against you.
3. Not being active in your child’s life
Have you taken them to doctor’s appointments? Have you sat in the audience during one of your child’s school performances or sporting events? Courts want parents who will parent. Yes, you need to make important healthcare and educational decisions for your child – but you also need to prove you engage with them.
4. Disparaging the other parent in front of the kids
While just the thought of your child’s other parent might fill you with rage, when you voice your feelings in a way that disparages the other parent in front of your child it can make them feel shameful and sad. It could also make the child wonder if you feel the same way about them. Children have the right to a relationship with their other parent that is not tinged by the anger and frustration of their other parent. As important as your relationship with your child is to you, is how important your child’s relationship is to their other parent. The court does not look fondly on parents who actively interfere with a child’s relationship with their other parent.
5. Leaving a trail of evidence that will come back to bite you.
Are you given to sending vitriolic text messages to your child’s other parent? Do you leave rambling, angry voicemail messages on the other party’s voice mail, or send them unsavory emails? All of these lapses in judgement have been preserved for all of time and they can be used as evidence against you in court. Stifle the urge to vent at the other party. Again, consult a counselor or trusted friend and leave the other party alone or the judge will not develop a favorable impression of you or your ability to make sound decisions.
6. Fail to be a good role model.
Waking up face down in the driveway because you passed out there after a night of partying, abusing drugs or being involved in any kind of criminal activity will obviously not endear you to the judge. If you have drug or alcohol problems, get treatment and take it seriously. If you have been abusive to the other party or to the child, it will likely cost you custody, or led to supervised-only visits.
7. Not following your lawyer’s advice.
You are paying your attorney to represent you, to assert your rights and protect your interests in your divorce and child custody challenge. Ignoring their advice is another excellent way to ensure that you lose custody or never get it. Your Franklin child custody lawyer has likely helped hundreds of parent before you try to win custody. Their advice is proven, so you would do well to follow it. Follow the court’s orders, too. Do not make it a habit of rescheduling your parenting time, do not show up late with lots of creative excuses.
Be willing to be flexible, take responsibility, be respectful and if you need to get help to be the parent who gets custody, ask for help.
If you have questions pertaining to child custody, you are welcome to schedule a consultation with a Franklin family law attorney from the Law Offices of Adrian H. Altshuler & Associates. We always keep the best interest of the child in mind as we work towards the most favorable custody arrangement. You may call 615-977-9370 or contact us to schedule a consultation at our Franklin, Columbia or Brentwood office today.