When facing a divorce, parents have to juggle a number of different priorities to successfully end their marriage. There is property division to worry about, long-term finances, and, of course, the custody and well-being of any children. This juggling must all happen while the spouses are in a distressed and emotional state, as well.
Unfortunately, divorce clients who want to make child custody a primary goal in their final divorce agreement often sabotage their efforts with their own behavior. The courts take the best interests of children extremely seriously during a divorce and there are some actions parents can take that can hurt their petitioning for a preferred custody arrangement—and ultimately their relationship with their children.
Here are four of the most common mistakes a parent can make during a divorce custody battle:
- Needlessly insist on sole custody. It is easy to have any resentful feelings you have towards your significant other spill into your custody goals. However, unless there is an element of child abuse or domestic violence present, it is the court's position that both parents' involvement in a child's life is essential. If you are perceived as using custody to leverage or bully your spouse, the court will likely not look kindly upon your petition.
- Move in with a new significant other. In the court's eyes, maintaining a sense of normalcy for children is a primary goal in custody rulings. This includes a stable household, continued routines, and exposure to known friends and family. If you have already moved into a new significant other's home (or allowed one to move in with you), you have significantly changed the way the court views your residence and your ability to provide stability for your child.
- Make parental decisions without notifying your spouse. In the weeks leading up to your divorce, or during the proceeding itself, many couples have already begun to spend significant time apart but are still obligated to communicate and share parenting responsibilities. If you have done something significant without notifying your spouse—such as remove your child from school, or skip an appointment—you are demonstrating to the court that you are incapable of parental cooperation.
- Act vindictively toward your spouse. Have you been badmouthing your spouse to friends and family? Coworkers? Have you gone as far as to destroy their property? Chances are opposing counsel will find a record of this and bring it up to the judge. To the court, both parents need to be able to encourage a healthy relationship between your child and the other parent. If you have already acted inappropriately, the court is likely to doubt your ability to do so.
Do you have concerns over your upcoming custody battle? If so, it is critical that you seek proven and effective counsel. At Kevin B. Gibbs, APLC, I have been assisting clients achieve their divorce and family law goals for more than two decades. Clients who choose my firm place their best interests in the hands of a board-certified family law specialist who knows how to get results on their behalf.
Face this difficult time with a trusted Orange Country divorce attorney by your side. Contact my firm at (714) 987-9819 today.