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Top 5 Mistakes Parents Make While in a Child Custody Case

Going through a divorce is an emotional process for all parties involved. Even though you are parting ways with your spouse, you still have to deal with child custody issues if you have children together. Ultimately the court and you want what is best for your children, which most often includes interaction with both parents. The stress of divorce, emotions running high, and anger in the heat of the moment can lead to mistakes that might impact custody.

For the benefit of your children, you need to keep your emotions in check during this difficult time and make smart decisions. Here are the top five mistakes parents make while in the midst of a child custody case:

5. Refusing to Pay Child Support

Paying child support is costly, but after all, children are costly. Some parents chose to avoid paying during a divorce as a way to punish their soon to be ex. If the court orders you to pay support and you choose to avoid payments, you will create legal problems. Child support and child custody are separate issues, but you can be sure a judge won’t look too kindly on you not paying. It’s crucial you pay your child support on time each month, if for no other reason than to ensure your children get what they need.

If you simply cannot pay because you lose your job, fall ill, or have to take a pay cut, you can petition the court to modify the amount you must pay. Keep in mind, however, you are still responsible for the full amount until a judge signs off on a modification.

4. Failing to Consider Your Children’s Emotional Needs

Ultimately, you and your ex want to do what’s best for your children and provide them with everything they need. Child support takes care of physical needs, but you must also consider the emotional and social needs of your children. It’s easy to stay away to avoid conflict with your ex, but you punish your children when you do this. As you develop a parenting plan, you also need to consider the needs of your child once the divorce is complete. Divorce comes with all types of changes that impact children. Ultimately, when you focus on the needs of your children, it makes it more difficult to fall into the trap of using them as pawns against your spouse. 

For example, consider your child’s school situation. If you move across town, will you be moving him or her to a new school? How might this impact your child? If you fight for specific visitation or custodial rights, can you help your child or teenager remain connected to their community and friends with sports, extracurricular activities, sleepovers, and other events? Similarly, older children typically have specific opinions about with whom they want to live, whether to stay with siblings.

3.  Harmful Parenting Decisions

When you are going through a divorce, it’s highly likely your ex will watch your behavior closely if he or she is fighting for joint or full custody. Any poor parenting decisions you make can come back to haunt you in court. If you are seeking custody, you need to make healthy decisions that do not harm your children. For example, do not use corporal punishment, do not use drugs around your children, and always use a car seat. If you were planning a skydiving expedition or wanted to take your kids bungee jumping, you should avoid these types of dangerous activities in the midst of a custody battle. Of course, you can do whatever you want with your children within reason. Yet, beware that harmful parenting decisions can lead to you losing custody of your children, creating additional emotional harm for them. This is a good time to evaluate your parenting decisions and consider changes you might make going forward.

2. Not Spending Enough Time with Your Children 

Parents seeking custody need to demonstrate they want to spend time with their children. If you chose to avoid contact with your children during divorce and custody proceedings, you risk your ex using your failure to support the idea you will not spend time with them in the future if you have joint or full custody. Even if you’ve made mistakes in the past, you need to spend as much time with your children as possible if custody is important to you.

You likely have some type of tentative schedule worked out with your partner. The days you have your children, take time out to be with them. You don’t have to spend money or do anything special all the time. Simply cooking a meal together, eating together, reading to or with your kids, going for a walk, or watching television builds a strong relationship and gives you an opportunity to be present. Passing your kids off to other family members or caregivers when you should be spending time with them can negatively impact your custody arrangement.

1. Behaving Badly Around Your Ex or in Court

Emotions run high when child custody disputes arise. Your former spouse might make you so angry, you find it difficult to remain calm. Maybe he or she shows up late, doesn’t pack your child’s overnight bag the right way, or simply says antagonizing things to hurt you. If you lose your temper in front of your spouse or in front of the judge, you might create a situation where you don’t get the custodial rights or visitation you hoped. Instead, concentrate on self-control and being the responsible and secure adult you are. Keeping calm can help positively influence the outcome of your child custody case.

Child custody cases are highly sensitive and the stress can eat at your body, mind, and soul. Don’t go through the process alone. Contact Betsy A. Fischer, LLC online or at 504-780-8232 to get the legal help and support you need to go through your custody case in New Orleans and surrounding areas.

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