If a child custody dispute looms in your future, it is important that your attorney be able to present your parenting judgments and decisions in the best possible light. The following is a review of the potential pitfalls that can occur during a custody case so you know what to avoid:
Significant Others. While you are certainly free to have a social life while your case is pending resolution, please be careful of how your new significant other interacts with your children. Because your family law case is likely to cause confusion for your child, many experts believe it is not a good idea to introduce new potential parental figures to a child.
You also need to be careful with any money you are spending on or with your new significant other. Any money spent on a relationship outside the marriage is considered “marital waste” and the other party can make a claim that they should be reimbursed for half of what was spent.
Parental Alienation. In a nutshell, parental alienation is when a parent engages in conduct that attempts to negatively influence their children regarding the other parent. As far as your custody case is concerned, you can do great damage to your case by engaging in this type of conduct. Often, clients do not even realize they are doing this.
In addition to the obvious acts of badmouthing the other parent to the children, do not forget that parental alienation can often be subtle. Children are very intuitive and can pick up easily if it angers or frustrates you to have to deal with the other party. Children will often try to placate their parent and because they do not want to let their parent down, and can easily mirror the behavior they see. Therefore, when you react negatively to the other party in front of your child, they may react the same way.
Communication. In order to avoid being accused of trying to block access to your child, make sure your child can communicate privately with your ex over the phone or at the computer. You do not have to allow numerous and repeated phone calls on the same day – one phone call a day is reasonable and for a reasonable time. Do not spy on the conversation, do not quiz your child about what they discussed, and try your best to encourage communication between your child and your ex. It is also not a good idea to deliver messages to the other parent through your child, and you should avoid using your child to deliver mail, household bills, personal property, etc.
Information Sharing. Failing to share information regarding your child’s educational, medical, extra-curricular and religious activities is unwise. The other parent needs to know this information, and the Court will frown upon any appearance that one parent is excluding the other parent from this information.
This is only a brief list of some of the common mistakes clients involved in emotional custody conflicts often make. If the other party engages in this conduct, please document such instances for future use in your case.
You can rely on Cistaro Law to skillfully negotiate and mediate your issues to a satisfactory resolution. Should the need arise, you can also count on our experience for being aggressive litigators if the situation calls for a more assertive response. Contact us today for your free consultation.