Going through a divorce is already mentally and physically taxing. But the prospect of losing your kids can make it feel like a death sentence.
If you’re going through a custody battle, you might be worried about having a limited role in your child’s future–or letting your child spend too much time with your ex-spouse if they are abusive or an unhealthy influence.
The laws that govern a child custody case aren’t always easy to decipher. One emotional or misguided statement could completely overturn your case.
During this difficult time, the court will be evaluating your behavior closely. It’s important that you don’t slip up.
Here are 6 key mistakes that you could be making in your child custody case.
1. Bad-Mouthing Your Ex-Spouse to Your Child
It’s easy to become overwhelmed with emotions during a divorce. Maybe your ex-spouse cheated on you or hurt you–or maybe you’ve had countless arguments with them.
But even if you’re deeply entrenched in a legal battle and upset with your ex-partner, it’s important to watch what you say around your child. A slip of the tongue about how your ex-spouse isn’t a good parent or they don’t love the child could have an impact on the court proceedings.
If your child tells the other parent or somebody else, it could end up being used as evidence in the proceedings. The court is likely to look poorly upon anyone who bad mouths the other parent to the child.
You don’t want the judge to see you in a bad light from the start of the proceedings. No matter how upset you are, be sure that you present yourself around your child the way you would want the court to see you.
2. Not Staying Involved With Your Child
When awarding custody, the court will consider your day to day involvement in your child’s life.
You might be busy and stressed out with legal proceedings, but don’t let that get in the way of your relationship with your child. Make a sincere effort to stay involved with your child’s school, sporting events, extracurricular activities, and more.
Keep in mind that if your ex-spouse is competitive, they may be trying to spend more time with your child than usual. Be firm about spending time with your child–and make sure that the time is split evenly.
3. Posting Compromising Photos on Social Media
Just to be safe, it’s best to stay off social media entirely until your case has been resolved. Also, set your profiles to private and block any family members who might side with your ex-spouse if things get tense.
The attorney representing your ex-spouse might take a look through your social media for any evidence that could be used against you.
For example, any photos of you partying, drinking alcohol, doing drugs, wearing sexual clothing, or any other unscrupulous behaviors could be presented as evidence that you’re not a fit parent.
4. Not Speaking to Your Ex-Spouse
If your ex-spouse is abusive or unfit to care for your child, you can push for full custody. In that case, speaking to the ex-spouse isn’t necessary.
But if you’re not seeking full custody, cutting off contact with your ex-partner could actually hurt your case. If the court determines that the parents aren’t able to communicate with each other, they won’t order joint custody.
This means that they’re likely to give custody to only one parent. While this could end up working in your favor, you could also end up losing custody of your child entirely.
If the other parent can demonstrate that they’ve made serious efforts to get in contact with you and you still refuse to speak, this could be a problem. The court could consider you unfit because you aren’t willing to promote the relationship between your child and the other parent.
This doesn’t mean that you have to be best friends with your ex-spouse. But it’s important that you can have a conversation and transfer important information about your child in a civil manner.
5. Not Keeping Conversations in Check
Any conversation that you have could be submitted as potential evidence.
Emails, texts, or recorded phone conversation to the other parent could be collected. Some parents may even put a recorder on their person when they’re meeting you face to face.
In these cases, any words spoken out of anger, stress, or frustration could end up portraying you in a bad light. In some high profile cases, like Alec Baldwin’s, one angry statement on a phone recording could ruin your whole custody battle.
Be careful of any conversation you have with your ex-spouse–or any of their family members or friends. Don’t be caught on tape saying things you wouldn’t say if the judge were in the room.
6. Fail to Pay Child Support
If the court requires you to pay child support and you choose to ignore it, you could be considered in contempt of court. This means you could be fined or even jailed.
Paying child support is considered one of the most important financial obligations. Failure to pay child support is likely to be interpreted by the judge as a lack of concern for your children.
Always pay your child support on time. Be sure to pay it by check and save receipts from your bank–so that you can prove later that you paid.
If you’re receiving child support payments and your partner hasn’t been sending them, you can take legal action to get the financial support that your child needs. Click for more information on what to do if you’re a victim of child support fraud.
These Mistakes Could Ruin Your Child Custody Case
When it comes to a legal procedure that could limit your role in your child’s future, you can’t afford to make any mistakes. Avoiding these mistakes can help ensure a better outcome in your child custody case.
Just remember to try and keep things amicable between you and your ex-spouse and speak honestly when you’re in court. Divorce might mark a big change in your life, but if you play your cards right, you won’t have to lose your relationship with your child.
Looking for more tips and tricks to get you through your next legal hurdle? Check out our blog to learn more!