Divorce has a tendency to bring out the worst in people and few things are better at that than fighting for custody of the children. It’s far too easy to let your emotions take control and then wind up with you making potentially very damaging mistakes.
Here are 7 mistakes that you need to avoid to ensure the best possible outcome for your case.
1) Do not make any threats against your spouse, direct or implied.
Issuing threats against or being abusive towards your spouse can result in having access to your children terminated altogether or you might be forced to settle for having only supervised access.
2) Do not miss child support payments.
You might be tempted to use child support as a bargaining chip against your spouse but falling into the trap will likely backfire on you. Your main concern here is to demonstrate to the court that you are a responsible parent and that you take your obligations to support your children seriously. If your financial situation changes, such as losing your job, inform your lawyer as soon as possible to have the court adjust the support amount accordingly.
3) Do not withhold access to the children.
This is in the same vein as child support. Telling the court that you have unilaterally decided to stop access for any reason will demonstrate that you are not willing to effectively co-parent. If you have any concerns regarding your spouse’s care of the children, contact your lawyer immediately. In that way, your concerns can be brought to the court and possibly have access adjusted legally.
4) Show that you are a good parent.
This might seem like an obvious point to make but the amount and type of access that the court awards you will depend on showing that you are capable of being a good parent.
Things like having an appropriate car seat (if your child/children still require one) and watching only age-appropriate movies and television programs around them. If you own a gun, make sure that it is secured correctly. Do not take drugs or alcohol, or be under any sort of influence around the children. If they report that you appeared intoxicated around them, or see any kind of drug paraphernalia (legal or not) during a visit, it could bring their safety around you into question and seriously restrict the kind of access that you have.
5) Be honest with the court and your lawyers.
You might be tempted to exaggerate some facts or bend the truth to make your case look stronger but, in reality, there is a good chance that it will have the opposite effect. If the judge discovers that you have been lying under oath, anything that you say afterward may not be as credible and perhaps even strengthen your spouse’s position.
6) Try to stay in the marital home
If you leave the marital home willingly, the courts might see this as you having abandoned the family or that you have acknowledged that your spouse is the more qualified parent. If you are in an abusive situation or if you feel that your or your children’s safety is at risk inform your lawyer and try to have them removed from the house. If that fails and you have no choice but to leave, take the children with you. This will show the court that you value your children’s safety as well as your own.
7) Avoid speaking badly about your spouse around the children.
Regardless of how you might feel about your spouse, you must fight the urge to air these feelings around the children. Constantly insulting your spouse around them can make the divorce process much more painful on them than it already is and could even be considered emotional abuse.
The points here represent only the tip of a complex iceberg. The professionals at the Law Offices of Kayleene H. Writer are dedicated to California family and divorce law. Give us a call today at (949) 353-6151 to get our experience working for you.