Divorce might very well be one of the most difficult experiences you have to face in your life.
Your priorities change, and sometimes those differences between you and your spouse have the potential to affect your child. Custody battles can get ugly; emotions run high, and things are said during the legal process which will forever alter the landscape of your relationship with your ex-spouse and your children.
Contact a Charlotte, NC, divorce attorney skilled in navigating custody battles in court.
What Should You Avoid During a Custody Battle?
Losing your temper
Anger is a red flag during a custody battle.
It is normal to feel angry, but lashing out at your children, your ex, or their family can lose the good opinion of a judge. Seek counseling and the company of friends to listen to your plight.
Even if you are angry and upset at the situation, your primary goal as a parent is to protect and foster an environment of love and care for your child. Above all else, never resort to physical attacks or verbal confrontations with your ex.
A judge has seen so many other cases where mental and emotional health continue to suffer from long-term issues. They’ve already seen the symptoms of dysfunction that can affect a child’s well-being.
Here are some problems that, if left out of control, won’t appear favorably in a court of law:
- Alcohol/drug abuse: Your sworn financial statements will likely include bank records and transactions. Repeated and high-balance debits for bars, liquor stores, and clubs might be a red flag for a judge as a sign of alcohol abuse. If you have a substance use problem, talk to your attorney about treatment and how this might affect your case.
- Erratic behavior: Stability is important, and erratic behavior, such as confronting your ex in public, at their workplace, or at pickups and drop-offs, will go a long way towards demonstrating that you have emotional problems.
- Preventing contact: Unless you have a restraining order to ensure your child’s safety from the other parent, don’t interfere with their relationship. Parental alienation is a form of child abuse, and keeping your child from contacting the other parent is an excellent way to show you don’t have your child’s mental or emotional needs at heart.
- Quitting your job: Economic stability is crucial in showing that you are keeping your child’s welfare at heart. Hold onto your job to provide for your family so you can show your effort in maintaining a stable environment.
- Interrogating your child: Demanding information from your child about who your ex might be seeing, what they are up to, and what they might have said about you hurts your custody battle.
Not making a home
A parent who provides a stable and safe environment will likely be looked upon more favorably than a parent who is showing that their behavior poses a risk to the child.
If you are a parent who has left the marital home, choose a place to live that provides a normal transition for your child. A clean home with sleeping accommodations, furniture, and the comforts of a home will be viewed as a sign of stability.
Putting in the extra effort to make a home rather than just a place to sleep shows you are keeping your child’s best interests at heart.
Pursuing dating and new partners
Even if you have felt alone for a long time during a deteriorating marriage, jumping into a new relationship or beginning to date too soon can be confusing to your child.
Give yourself, and especially your child, time to heal. Try strengthening healthy bonds with the family you already have first. If you wish to date, avoid introducing any new partner to your child too soon.
Avoid carrying on with the same kinds of behavior that showed up at the worst parts of the marriage.
If you must limit interaction with them, make sure it is documented.
When communicating with your co-parent, use the BIFF rule.
- Brief: Limit your communication to address only the important matters.
- Informative: Stick to the facts; don’t drag in emotional language, and don’t lecture.
- Friendly: Avoid hostility; don’t say anything in a message to your ex-spouse you wouldn’t want a judge to see.
- Fair: Make reasonable requests and respond with reasonable permissions rather than fight every detail.
Slandering your ex-spouse
Though you might have opinions about your ex-spouse, and you have the desire to share that with as many individuals as possible — do not.
Disparaging remarks about your spouse can reach your child. A judge might see that someone willing to smear the other parent’s reputation will have no reservations about doing so in front of your child.
Revealing problems with money
Showing a level of responsibility with money goes a long way to showing how fit you are as a parent, especially if you are trying to demonstrate a need for child support.
Setting poor boundaries
A parent needs to address the occasional disciplinary problems or rebellious behavior. Avoid saying yes to your child’s every whim to demonstrate being a capable parent.
Playing the victim
The judge will likely not want to hear what the other parent is doing wrong but what you are trying to do right. Any accusations that you are being afflicted by your ex-spouse’s poor decisions require proof. Otherwise, it comes across as unnecessary noise.
Contact a Family Law Attorney in Charlotte for Custody Battle Assistance
Your attorney’s job is to advise and advocate for you during these challenging times. If you are in doubt about anything you are doing, ask them for advice.
Contact a skilled Charlotte, North Carolina divorce attorney at Remington & Dixon, PLLC to help you prepare for a custody battle and navigate the process ahead of you.
Custody Battle FAQs
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Jennifer is a founding partner at Remington & Dixon, PLLC. Jennifer concentrates her practice in the areas of family law, wills & estates, unemployment benefits appeals, and traffic. At Elon University School of Law, Jennifer was the vice president of the Public Interest Law Society and a member of the Family Law Society. During law school, Jennifer interned at the Elon University School of Law Field Placement Clinic with Legal Aid of North Carolina where she represented clients in domestic violence court proceedings.