For divorcing parents, issues of custody and parenting time are often of utmost importance. Sadly, parents sometimes undermine their own cases by doing things that they shouldn’t. Here is a brief list of some things you should avoid doing if you are seeking parenting time or custody.
1. Don't ignore the case
Although this may seem like obvious advice, the stress of participating in a custody battle may lead some people to pretend that the case doesn’t exist. Unfortunately, this can lead to undesirable outcomes. Failing to answer the other parent's petition or motion, could result in the court issuing a default judgment giving the other parent everything they asked for. In addition, during the case, you may have required court appearances or deadlines for providing information and evidence to the other parent. Ignoring these will significantly harm your case.
2. Don't involve your children in the case
Never put your children in the middle of your divorce. Don’t use them as sources of information or put them in a position that makes them feel as if they need to choose between parents. Focus on maintaining as much of a normal routine as possible and never discuss the case in front of your kids.
3. Don't keep your children from the other parent
Unless they present a danger to your children’s physical, mental, or emotional health, you should never keep the other parent from spending time with your children. Courts want both parents to be involved in their children’s lives and expect each parent to support and encourage the relationship between the children and the other parent. If there are no safety risks, denying parenting time will have a negative impact on your case and may lead the court to limit your own parenting time or deny you custody.
4. Don't be a jerk the other parent
One thing the judge will look for when deciding custody is whether a parent will encourage a relationship between their ex and the child. Disrespecting the other parent shows that you might not be capable of doing so and may lead the court to grant all decision-making power to the other parent.
5. Don't disobey court orders
This should go without saying, but if a court tells you to do something, do it. During divorce cases, the court may issue “temporary orders,” on matters such as child support or parenting time, that stay in effect until the case is completed and the court issues a final order. Make sure that you obey these orders.
6. Don't abuse alcohol or drugs
Having an occasional drink with dinner isn’t generally an issue, but regularly using excessive amounts of alcohol or other drugs can be cause for concern. If you have chemical dependency issues, be proactive and seek assistance before it becomes an issue in your case. You can’t erase the past, but you can change the future. Remember, the court’s focus is the best interests of the children, and your ability to be a responsible parent is a key factor.
7. Don't lie to the court
It is imperative that you be truthful when providing information. Lying in court, or in a document submitted to the court, ruins your credibility. You should be prepared to back up your assertions with evidence.
To discuss child custody, or any family-law matter, call Kruse Family Law PLLC at 612.231.9865 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.