Many different things can be used against a parent in a custody battle. It’s crucial to understand what factors may be used against you and how you can conduct yourself to limit potential damage to your custody case. With a skilled family law attorney by your side, you’re in a better position to understand what you should and should not do regarding your custody battle.
Mistakes that Can Hurt Your Child Custody Case
Almost anything and everything that affects your ability, either positively or negatively, to care for and provide for your child can be used against you in a custody case. Courts can often consider multiple sources of evidence such as text messages, recordings, social media posts, pictures, financial data, and witness testimony.
To minimize mistakes that can hurt your child custody case, you should always prioritize your children’s well-being, show a willingness to co-parent healthily and conduct yourself as though the judge may be watching.
1. Engaging in Physical or Verbal Altercations
Keep interactions with the other parent and your children calm. Avoid any heated verbal or physical altercations. It’s important to stay calm even when your temper is rising. Situations can escalate quickly, and if law enforcement is called, even if charges aren’t pressed, it can change the judge’s perception of you from positive to negative. When you’re involved in a custody battle, you should keep in mind that anything you say and do could make it back to the judge. Even one yelling match could negatively affect your case.
2. Criticizing Your Child’s Other Parent
It can be tempting to badmouth the other parent, especially when you’re fighting for the right to see your children, but it’s unwise to do so, even when it is to friends or family. Speaking badly about the other parent and criticizing them can be used against you in a custody case to show the judge you won’t be able to co-parent in a respectful and healthy way.
3. Alienation of Affection
Keeping your child from the other parent or criticizing them in front of your child can lead to parental alienation. These behaviors and the damage they cause are confusing and frustrating for children. Trying to damage the other parent’s credibility and image is a mistake when you’re involved in a custody battle. Judges look at alienation of affection poorly and don’t tolerate it, and it will affect your case negatively.
4. Failure to Compromise
When you’re involved in a custody battle, it’s important to compromise with the other parent. Judges view the ability to compromise favorably. It helps children emotionally and puts an end to the fighting. Failure to compromise isn’t in a child’s best interest and shows you can’t co-parent in a way that is best for the child.
5. Refusal to Comply with the Courts
Temporary court orders are sometimes part of custody cases and divorce. A temporary order stays in effect until the court issues a final order in the case. Court orders may be issued for child support or visitation when you’re involved in a custody battle, and it’s important to follow them. If you disregard any part of the order, it shows the court you might not be capable of following any final custody orders.
Not Acting in Your Child’s Best Interest
Judges act in a child’s best interest and expect parents to do so as well. Not acting in your child’s best interest when you’re involved in a custody battle can be used against you. During a custody battle, your focus should be on your child and doing what is best for them. Doing things like removing your child from their school or activities or not following an existing agreement can be detrimental to your case when you’re seeking custody rights.
Some examples of not acting in the best interest of your child include:
Neglecting to Pay Child Support
Neglecting to fully meet any agreed-upon child support payments during your divorce or child custody proceedings can be used against you in a custody case. If the payments are court-ordered support, failing to make the child support payments can be viewed as showing contempt for the court’s temporary judgment. Neglecting to pay child support can also make you look like an uncaring parent who isn’t keeping their child’s best interest in mind.
Neglecting Parental Responsibilities
All agreed-upon parental responsibilities and duties should be carried out. Disrupting and/or not adhering to visitation schedules or taking children out of their extracurricular activities aren’t in your child’s best interest and can be used against you in a custody case. These things can negatively affect your child’s mental and emotional well-being, and courts don’t look favorably upon parents who fail in their parental responsibilities.
Engaging in Reckless Behavior
Reckless behavior includes excessive alcohol or drug use, especially in the child’s presence, and placing a child in an unsafe environment. When you’re involved in a custody case, a judge doesn’t view parents favorably when they exhibit these types of behaviors or any other behavior that could harm the child physically, emotionally, or mentally.
Understanding Your Parental Rights
In Texas, the state’s family law statutes govern parental rights. These statutes outline parental rights and responsibilities, which include decision-making authority, visitation, and custody. Both parents, whether they are married or not, have equal responsibilities and rights when it comes to their children. Both parents have the right to physical custody of their child and the right to make decisions about their child’s upbringing unless there’s a court order laying out a specific parent-child relationship. When parents cannot agree on these issues, the court may become involved in the decision.
Doing What’s Best for Your Child
The standard of acting in your child’s best interest is the basis for custody decisions. It is meant to protect a child’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being and ensure their parents are fit to provide their child with the best possible upbringing.
When you’re involved in a custody case, the court evaluates several different factors to determine what is in the best interest of your child. These factors can include parental cooperation, the relationship of each parent with the child, any history of violence or abuse by either parent, creating continuity for the child, and the stability of each parent’s household.
Hiring a Child Custody Attorney for Your Custody Fight
Cases involving children are emotional in nature. Parents often experience struggles when engaged in a custody battle. An experienced child custody attorney can determine the best legal strategy to help you obtain a positive outcome.
The child custody attorneys at the Jimenez Law Firm encourage negotiations and compromise. If you find yourself in a situation where the other parent is combative, irrational, or immature, our experienced custody attorneys won’t back down from a contested trial and will do our best to ensure a positive outcome to your custody case.