Child Custody | Family
What Can Be Used Against You in a Custody Battle?
by Unbundled Legal Help
Child custody battles are one of the most contentious family law matters. While most child custody matters are resolved without going to trial, achieving a resolution can be taxing for both parents and children. If you are involved in a custody battle, you will want to avoid conduct that could impact time with your child.
Custody battles are stressful, emotional, and exhausting. It is understandable that many parents become frustrated and may not always be on their best behavior. However, a parent should always approach a custody battle through the eyes of the judge overseeing the matter. Earning the judge’s trust and respect is critical to resolve a custody battle fairly.
Resolving a family law matter does not always require the help of an attorney. However, child custody battles may involve complicated legal matters too difficult to handle alone. Although legal fees can be costly, you have options to minimize the expense associated with the legal representation concerning a child custody dispute.
Potential Issues in a Custody Dispute
Abusing or Physically Hurting Your Child
If there is a credible allegation of child abuse, it will most likely come up in a custody hearing.
Arguing in Front of Your Child
Never argue with your child’s other parent, or any other person, in front of your child. Arguing in front of your child is not only stressful for your child, they can use it against you in a custody battle. A witness who sees you have an argument, especially a profane one, may testify in court against you. Your child’s other parent may offer a friend as a witness to show you are not fit to have custody rights.
Even if you believe the argument wasn’t serious, anything you do can be manipulated to influence the judge into thinking you are irresponsible, have anger management issues, or frequently argue in front of your child.
One argument may not be such a big deal, but people can assume or infer things that may not be true. Unfortunately, this happens every day to parents. Even one social media post that depicts a parent as unfit may be used in a custody proceeding. Avoid behavior a judge may look down upon when determining which parent should have full custody of your child.
Failing To Pay Child Support
A parent asking for custody rights must show he or she is financially stable. Failing to pay child support suggests a parent is not financially stable. A judge will consider which parent is paying child support and whether they have continued to make payments under an existing parenting plan approved by the court.
Fighting for custody can be difficult if you are behind on child support payments. A judge will use it against you if you have fallen behind on these payments. Therefore, speak with an attorney to determine what steps you should consider to get caught up on child support payments and show the court that you are financially responsible and able to care for your child.
Focusing on a New Partner Rather Than Your Child
Parents who have divorced or separated, or parents who may never have been married, will likely meet other people as they move on. However, focusing on a personal relationship with a new partner during a custody battle may be used against you by a judge and the other parent. It is acceptable to date other people, but when seeking to get custody rights, focusing on your child’s best interests is the goal rather than developing a personal relationship with a new partner.
Exposing Your Child to Alcohol or Drugs
Most parents will agree that no child should see excessive alcohol use or any drug use. However, once a child is older, witnessing a parent have a beer or drink at home is not a big deal (especially during holidays or sporting events). It is a big deal, however, when a parent drinks excessively or does drugs and places a child in an unsafe environment. A judge will not take kindly to a parent who frequently has parties while the child is in the home or exhibits any other behavior that might harm the child emotionally or physically.
Removing Your Child from School without Notice
A parent may, without notice, remove a child from school. Sometimes, law enforcement may get involved. Removing a child from school without telling the other parent may violate an existing parenting plan, ordered by a court. Taking any action contrary to an existing agreement can be detrimental when seeking custody rights.
Failing To Compromise
Compromise is always important in custody battles. Seldom does either parent receive everything they want. A judge will decide what is in the best interest of a child. However, the parents ultimately can reach a decision that avoids furthering a battle in the courtroom.
A judge wants parents to compromise, as it helps the child emotionally. And it stops the fighting over who gets custody. Of course, one parent may always be upset about the outcome of a custody battle. However, once the situation is final, it is easier for everybody to move on peacefully and adjust to a new situation.