Child Custody | Family
What Not to Do During a Custody Battle
by Blair Matyszczyk, Attorney
Custody battles are not always contentious, but when disagreements arise, two parents find themselves spending time and money fighting over who should have greater custody rights of their child. According to the most recent data available from the United States Census Bureau, more than 25% of all children under the age of twenty-one have one parent living outside the household.
Losing full custody of your child after a divorce, separation, or other matter, can be devastating. However, no matter how difficult a custody battle can be, parents should be cautious and avoid conduct that can be very unhelpful when trying to gain custody rights. With Unbundled Legal Help, we can connect you today with a family law attorney in your area who can assist you with all or part of your legal matter.
Hiring a family law attorney to handle a custody dispute can be a costly undertaking. You have more than an “all or nothing” option. Unbundled legal help provides you with multiple options for legal representation, which can save you time and money.
What To Avoid if You Are Involved in a Custody Battle
Custody matters are always about what is in the best interests of the child or children. Parents often disagree on what is in the child’s best interests in terms of where the child should primarily live. Although custody is about the child involved, parents can avoid conduct that may reflect badly upon them both inside and outside the court room. Things to avoid in a custody battle include, but may not be limited to, the following:
No. 1–Don’t Deny Contact between Your Child and Your Child’s Other Parent
If your child’s other parent is lawfully allowed to see your child, don’t deny them that right. The judge who will be signing a custody order could view this negatively. Allowing your child to see your child’s other parent (who may or may not be an ex-spouse or partner), does not mean you have to see the other parent. Considering your child’s interests at all times is paramount in a custody battle.
No. 2–Don’t Let the Judge See You Fight with Your Child’s Other Parent
Fighting with your child’s other parent is never a good thing, but especially so when fighting in front of children or in public. Fighting in front of a judge can be a red flag that you are lacking emotional stability. You want the judge to see you calm, collected, and reasonable.
No. 3–Don’t Make Any False Statements about Your Child’s Other Parent
Parents involved in a custody battle should remain cordial and honest when speaking about one another. Making a false statement about your child’s other parent for the purpose of harming the other parent’s chances of having desired custody rights is an unwise decision for everyone involved. Not only are there legal issues, but lying about another parent causes more stress for your child.
No. 4–Avoid Behavior That May Be Used against You
Custody battles are a time to be on your best behavior. Having one drink in front of your child, or spending time with an adult companion in front of your child may be used as evidence that you are not a responsible parent. Conduct can be overexaggerated and misconstrued in favor of one side in a custody battle.
No. 5–Avoid Physical Contact with Your Child’s Other Parent
If remaining peaceful means avoiding contact with your child’s other parent, then taking this step can help you keep your cool during a custody battle. Don’t add fuel to the fire when you are trying to resolve a custody dispute.
No. 6–Avoid Posting Custody-Related Matters on Social Media Sites
Social media postings, text messages, and emails tend to get people in trouble. While some social media profiles are private, many of us willingly post things online for the world to see. Some parents have gotten into trouble by posting comments, photos, or anything else on social media accounts that pertain to custody matters. Social media postings are commonly used as exhibits in legal proceedings, and they can come back to haunt a parent involved in a custody battle.
No. 7–Don’t Involve Third Parties in Your Custody Matter
Family members and friends may mean well when they ask how your custody battle is going. However, sharing information about the details of your custody matter, even with close family members and friends, could become problematic. Despite a family member or friend’s best efforts, information may get back to the other parent of your child.
If you are working with an attorney, keep information you share with your attorney confidential. Your conversations with your attorney are protected, but that protection is lost if you share information outside of the attorney-client relationship. Custody battles are emotionally charged and speaking with a friend or family member may help to get feelings out, which is understandable. However, a custody battle is a legal matter, and legal matters are better kept between an attorney and client.
What Can Help My Situation?
If you are in the middle of a custody battle, in addition to avoiding the common mistakes identified above, there are things you can do to help your situation. Examples of positive steps forward include the following:
Listen to Your Child’s Wishes
If your child is old enough to voice his or her wishes, those wishes should be incorporated into whatever custody arrangement is agreed upon and approved by a court. Parents who do not consider their child’s wishes are not helping an already stressful situation. Rather than be upset with your child’s voiced wishes of living with his or her other parent, be reasonable and make the most out of the time you do get to see your child.
Continue Making On-Time Child Support Payments
If you currently make child support payments, continue to make on-time payments in accordance with an existing parenting plan approved by the court. Failing to make child support payments can signal to the judge that you lack responsibility, even if missing one payment was an isolated incident.
This is not to say that missing a child support payment will prevent you from winning a custody battle. However, when seeking custody rights, you want to limit the number of reasons the judge has to question your ability to take care of your child.
Maintain Financial Stability
Job loss has hit all portions of the United States since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Keeping up with bills has been difficult for many people who never experienced financial troubles prior to the pandemic.
You cannot predict when you may lose your job for any reason, such as a company’s decision to downsize. However, doing what you can to remain financially stable demonstrates your ability to care for your child. Online jobs have become the new normal for many parents with children at home.
Obey the Law
The last thing you want to encounter during a custody battle is a criminal charge, even if the charge is just a traffic violation. Just as keeping up with custody payments is essential, obeying the law is equally critical when you are fighting for custody of your child. While a speeding ticket may not have an impact, any other criminal charge may have a negative impact on your custody proceeding.
Find Out How an Unbundled Lawyer Can Help You
Unbundled Legal Services provides pay-as-you-go and a la carte legal services to clients in need of affordable legal representation. By spending as little as $500 to $1,500, Unbundled Legal Help will match you with a local family law attorney who handles custody matters. Unbundled is a hybrid approach to the attorney-client relationship.
Most people cannot spend tens of thousands of dollars on legal matters, including a custody battle. Family law disputes can be extremely costly. Unbundled Legal Help provides clients with multiple options for legal representation.
As a parent or guardian, you may be able to complete many of the tasks associated with a custody battle. However, you may need some guidance from an attorney, and you also may need an attorney to appear on your behalf in court. You can save money by picking what services you need help with, placing you in complete control of the scope of legal representation with your attorney.
If you are unsure about what steps to take, consider Unbundled Legal Help as a potential option to provide you with the legal representation you are looking for. We can put you in touch today with a local child custody lawyer. To learn more about how Unbundled has helped many clients in your shoes, contact us today to discuss your options.