Divorce is already an emotional rollercoaster, but the stress of also fighting for your kids can add a whole new level of intensity. As a divorce and child custody attorney, I have seen well intentioned parents make critical mistakes due to this stress. Below are the five top mistakes that you don’t want to make when in the midst of a child custody dispute.
5 Custody Dispute Mistakes Parents Make
Post On Social Media About Your Case
Don’t air out your qualms about your ex online. Words you write in anger or sarcasm can be interpreted as a threat or abuse and also be used to discredit you in court. Some of my clients have said, “but my account is private, I only allow my friends to follow me!” That may be the case, but chances are, you share at least one mutual friend with your spouse, and screenshots of your post can be sent in a matter of seconds.
Lose Your Temper
Your ex might literally be the devil reincarnate, but if he/she gets you to lose your cool, they have major leverage. As mentioned above, watch what you say not only to others but also online. Any type of threat made, even if it is not meant literally, can be weaponized against you in court. Anger is a normal emotion to feel when fighting for custody of your children. Allow yourself to feel angry, but don’t let your anger out in ways that are going to hurt your case.
Put Your Kids in the Middle of the Mess
Using your children as leverage against your ex is a big no-no. Judges do not look favorably on those who use their kids to get even or use them to pass mean messages back and forth. Court consequences aside, child custody battles can be incredibly stressful for your children. Remember, your kids are watching and listening to how you talk about your ex. Put aside your negative feelings and model healthy behavior and conflict resolution. Your kids need to understand that they are not the cause or reason for the dispute.
You already have enough on your plate with a divorce, so why do you need to prioritize keeping good records? Every conversation that you have (or your kids have) with your ex could impact the case in big ways. Communication via email and text is easiest to present in court, but even journal entries can be used. Documented communication is your evidence. And consider family communication tools like OurFamilyWizard or AppClose. They make record-keeping so much easier.
Refuse Court Orders
One of the most stupid things that you could do is fail to comply with court orders or a court approved agreement. You might not agree with the visitation schedule, and might even question your ex’s ability to parent, but if you do not honor the order you will be found with contempt of court. This type of stain does not come out easily. If you disagree with the order or agreement, talk to your child custody attorney. They will be able to help you put together a plan to go back to court and change the order/agreement.
Yes, divorce is an emotional rollercoaster, but you will make it through. Remember to have patience with yourself and practice self-care during this difficult time. Take care of your mind and body, and take time out to exercise, eat well, and relax. You will be able to better navigate your divorce and be there for your children when you are taking care of yourself.