Child custody is one of the most contentious issues in a divorce case and, with tempers flaring and emotions at an all-time high, it is easy to make a mistake. However, some mistakes can irreparably harm your chances at child custody.
Here are some of the most common mistakes individuals make that can affect the outcome of their child custody case:
You forgot who is important: This is a difficult time for your family, but no matter how angry, hurt, or stressed out you might get, you absolutely should never forget that this is about your children and not about you. Remember, the judge on your case will always put the interests and needs of the children above all else. The responsibility of the court is to ensure the decision rendered is fair to everyone, in addition to serving the needs of the children, and will consider evidence and testimony from both parties regarding the following:
Which parent provides the most emotional and moral support for the children
Which parent cares for the children at home
Which parent is in charge of the children’s education, whether at home or at school
Whether a parent has a history of drug or alcohol abuse
Whether domestic violence is a factor
The safety of each parent’s household
You fail to keep track of every interaction: A judge will rely on evidence and testimony, so you need to keep track of anything that could relate to your child custody case. What does this mean? You should make notes of whatever occurs when your children are at the other parent’s home, or incidents when your ex does not pick them up at an agreed upon time. It is also crucial to note whatever your children tell you regarding the other part, such as whether or not something made them uncomfortable or unhappy. It is crucial to make sure they are telling the truth and are not trying to influence the situation. Save text messages your children might send to you that contain complaints, save emails or texts from your ex, as well as any handwritten notes and letters, including the envelope they arrived in. Given all the information you will undoubtedly collect, it is imperative you keep them organized.
You let your anger show: This is a tough situation and it is natural to get emotional, but no matter how upset you might be, you must try your best to remain calm and keep your cool. Of course, this seems easier said than done, so you will need to find other outlets to vent your emotions that will not harm you or your family. Spend time with a friend you trust and talk about what you are going through. You might get a fresh perspective on things and your anger might dwindle down. If venting to a friend is not your cup of tea, or you feel the need to keep such matters private, get your emotions out by writing everything down in a journal. Even meditation and exercise are excellent ways to release your frustrations.
Why is this so important? First, you do not want to show your anger to your children. They are having a hard enough time coping with their own emotions, so being burdened with yours will likely overwhelm them. To make matters worse, what you say could make them feel pressured to choose sides, or make them feel guilty for wanting to spend time with their other parent.
Lastly, never lose control in front of someone who has the ability to hurt your case. So, if you are in court, keep it together and refrain from any emotional outbursts.
You say negative remarks in front of a judge: Speaking of emotional outbursts, you should absolutely never say negative things about your ex in front of a judge. While it is all well and good to tell your attorney about any issues related to your ex and the decisions that led up to the divorce, bad mouthing your ex in court is not a wise decision. Let the evidence you provide your attorney to speak for itself. When speaking in court, express yourself logically and explain why you believe the children will be better off in your custody.
You try too hard to look perfect: Taking time to describe your ex as a monster is a bad move, but so is trying to make yourself seem like a saint. There is no such thing as perfection and the judge knows this. We are all human, so trying to make yourself seem too good to be true in court might make a judge question whether or not you are telling the truth. If you are stretching the truth in one area, you might very well be stretching the truth in another. Instead of trying to craft the perfect image, be honest about the situation.
You forgot about the real goal: What is the point of all of this? It is not to spite your ex or make them look bad in court. The goal is to make sure your children get the outcome that best protects their needs and interests. This is all about ensuring their happiness and safety, so never forget it.
Child Custody Attorneys in Gainesville
One of the most important issues in a divorce is how the custody of your children will be determined and divided. At Swanson Law Center, P.A., our Gainesville divorce attorneys are dedicated to protecting the rights of our clients. Our legal team understands how important your children are to you, which is why we are committed to fighting on your behalf for a parenting plan you can agree on. When you choose to hire us, you can rest assured you will receive the individualized attention you deserve.
Contact us today at (352) 375-5602 to schedule a consultation.