Thursday, August 28, 2014

4 Things You're Doing that is Hurting Your Custody Case

For many people, custody cases are very tough experiences.  Whether you are attempting to litigate your custody matter yourself or you are being advised by an attorney, here are 4 things you may be doing that is hurting your chances of winning.

Getting emotional in court
Whatever you need to do to remain calm and collected, whether it be see a therapist or having a nightly venting session with your best friend, do it.  You may think that by getting upset in court the judge is seeing how much you care about your child and the circumstances.  However, the judge deals with similar situations all day, everyday.  Showing too much emotion in court may come across as unstable and needy, not as the caring parent that you are.  If you have retained an attorney, talk with your attorney to make sure you know what to expect in court.  That way, there is less chance of you being surprised by something in court and losing your emotions in front of the judge.

Not talking to your child's other parent. 
This is, no doubt, a hard time for you to work with your child's other parent.  After all, you two are fighting over the most important thing in your life: your child.  However, one of the things judges look at when determining custody is the ability of each parent to communicate with and cooperate with the other parent.  Find a way, whether it is by email or weekly phone calls, to keep the communication lines open with the other parent.  And you never know, you may be able to work this thing out after all.

Talking to your child about the case.
There are, of course, exceptions to all of these things.  However, it is generally not a good idea to be talking to your child about the case.  You may see it as keeping them informed; it is their life after all.  However, the courts may view it as you trying to skew the child in your favor or interfering with the child's relationship with the other parent.  And worst of all, despite your intentions, you may be confusing your child and making everything more difficult on them.  If you believe your child needs to talk to someone, set them up with a therapist or ask the guardian ad litem for help on easing the process for your child.  

Ignoring the judge.
It is hard to hear a judge, someone who does not know you or your child, tell you how to handle a situation.  However, ignoring the judges suggestions or requirements can hurt you long term.  For example, the judge has ordered you attend a co-parenting class.  While you may take this as an insult because you feel you know how to co-parent just fine, think twice before ignoring that requirement.  A co-parenting class may be required by all parties to any court action in front of that judge.  If you don't attend the co-parenting class, you are not going to be able to convince the judge you know better than he or she; you ARE you going to convince the judge that you are not willing to abide by the rules in an effort to obtain the best circumstances for your child.

While you may have the best interests of your child at heart, remember the judge can only take into consideration the evidence you present.  By doing the above four things, you are essentially showing the judge evidence that hurts you.  It is always wise to talk with an attorney before you do anything related to a custody case.  If you are involved in a custody or divorce case and would like a consultation, please contact us at (804) 447-0146 or