Child custody matters are often one of the most stressful, overwhelming, and emotionally draining aspects of a divorce. However, it’s important to be aware that your actions and behavior can not only have an impact on your child’s wellbeing, but also your custody case. If you’re involved in a child custody dispute, there are several common mistakes you should be mindful to avoid in order to ensure a positive outcome for you and your children.
The following are five crucial mistakes to avoid in your child custody case:
1. Not Putting the Best Interests of Your Children First
No matter how bitter your divorce case might be, you must put aside the contentiousness for the sake of your children. Putting the best interests of your children first and foremost is the most important thing you can do in your child custody case. This means safeguarding their physical, emotional, and psychological health — and shielding them from the divorce as much as possible. The “best interests of the child” is the guiding principle in all custody matters and the standard that a court will apply in deciding a case.
2. Not Communicating with the Other Parent
Regardless of the feelings you may have about the other parent, failing to reasonably communicate with them can be detrimental to both your child and your custody matter. A refusal to communicate can indicate your unwillingness to cooperate as a co-parent. While this won’t always preclude an award of joint custody, a judge will take it into consideration when issuing an order.
3. Speaking Badly About the Other Parent
Bad-mouthing or making disparaging remarks about the other parent to undermine the child’s relationship with them is emotionally harmful to your child — and it won’t be viewed positively by a judge. If the behavior is severe enough, a court may view it as “parental alienation,” and consider it when deciding a custody case. Remember, your children love both their parents and it’s vital to encourage a healthy relationship between them and their other parent.
4. Preventing the Other Parent from Seeing the Children
Withholding visitation or interfering with the other parent’s parenting time is a significant mistake. Courts will not look favorably upon a parent’s attempt to cut off the other’s access to the child and will take this into consideration when issuing an order — once an order is in place, failure to comply can result in unwanted consequences. If you believe your child’s welfare is in danger by spending time with the other parent, you must follow through with the proper legal measures. In such cases, supervised visitation may be granted — only in very rare cases would a court ever refuse a parent visitation.
5. Failing to Document Your Case
While you might be on your best behavior during an ongoing custody dispute, it doesn’t mean your former spouse will be. It’s critical to document your case and keep a record of all hostile, inappropriate, and angry communications. Document any threats, instances where your ex refused to allow you to have visitation, or if they are not following through with their parental responsibilities. If your child returns from spending time with the other parent and begins to act out, you should also document any emotional episodes.
Contact an Experienced New York City Family Law Attorney
If you are facing a child custody matter, it’s essential to have a compassionate and skillful divorce attorney who can guide you through the legal process. The Edelsteins, Faegenburg & Brown LLP has been providing knowledgeable counsel and adept advocacy for divorce and family law matters for more than 70 years. Call (212) 425-1999 to schedule a consultation or contact us now.