What Are Common Child Custody Mistakes?
Child custody is one of the most important and sensitive parts of a divorce. Many people make choices during and after their divorces without realizing how these decisions might impact their child custody rights. Continue reading for a discussion of a few of the more common mistakes that parents make during and after divorce that can negatively affect custody. Call a seasoned Alabama divorce lawyer if you have any questions or if you need help with an Alabama family law matter.
Badmouthing your ex
Divorces can be heated. A lot of emotions are likely floating around, and it is easy to fall into using hurtful language toward or about your spouse. Do not talk trash about your ex to your children, or try to put your kids in the middle of your divorce battle. Doing so can make a tough situation for kids even more damaging. Also, your co-parent will be able to use such actions against you when negotiating or arguing for custody.
Posting on social media
Don’t berate your ex to your children, and don’t do it publicly, either. In this age of social media, people feel comfortable venting their frustrations on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other locations online. Courts frown heavily on such behavior. It can make parents look unstable or indicate that they cannot maintain a healthy relationship and environment for their children. Keep your private life private. Discuss your feelings with your friends and family, or with a counselor, but do not post publicly about your marital issues or your feelings about your ex.
Losing focus on your children during the divorce
When you are in the middle of a divorce, you have a thousand things on your mind. You may have to move out of your house, deal with social concerns with your family and friends, work on getting your finances in order, and prepare your legal case, all while dealing with what is likely a challenging time internally. If you have children, it is important that you keep your focus on them during this time. If you miss your visitation or custodial time together, or if you start to miss phone calls and other events, you may weaken your custody position by the time the court makes a decision. Make sure to prioritize your children, despite the difficulties you are likely facing.
Withholding alimony or child support
If you are ordered to pay spousal support or child support either during a divorce or as part of a final divorce decree, make sure to pay what you owe. If you are facing economic hardship, you can petition the court to lower your support obligation. Otherwise, you are legally obligated to keep paying. Even if your ex violates their obligations by, for example, preventing you from taking visitation or custody, your solution should be to go to the court, not to take matters into your own hands. The court will hold either party who violates their court-mandated obligations in contempt, leading to penalties including fines, wage garnishment, reduced custody, and even jail time.
By the same token, if your ex owes you child support and refuses to pay, take your concerns to the court. Do not punish your ex by withholding visitation. Refusing to let a parent have their court-mandated parenting time is a violation of a court order and, in extreme circumstances, it may even be construed as kidnapping. Talk to your lawyer and go through the courts if you have an issue with your ex.
Being careless with new relationships
An important part of divorce is obtaining the freedom to move on with your life, including romantically. When children are involved, however, it is important to be careful with new romances. If you decide to move in with a romantic partner, or if they are constantly staying at your home, then your children might feel uncomfortable staying with you during your parenting time. You could also trigger more heated exchanges with your current or former spouse during divorce negotiations and court proceedings. The court might even consider it to be in your child’s best interests not to stay with you while a new person lives in your home if it happens too soon during or after a divorce. Talk to your children, talk to your attorney, and make decisions with the best interest of your children first and foremost in your mind. You are allowed to move on with your life, but the process takes time.