Child custody is a sensitive and emotional matter. If you are going through separation or divorce and there is a dispute about the best interests of the child/children, the first step may be co-parenting classes or mediation. However, if an agreement can still not be reached, the Court will step in and make a determination on what is best for the child/children.
What NOT to do while you have a pending custody claim
It is very important that you follow your attorney’s advice during the custody process so that you receive the best outcome for you and your child. Your best chance of a favorable outcome also depends on NOT doing certain things.
- DO NOT discuss the custody case with your child. You may want to ask your child how they feel about who/where they live, but you should avoid doing this. In most cases, the judge will not take into consideration the child’s choice. Judges are looking out for the best interest of the child, and that isn’t always where the child would choose to live.
- DO NOT record your child talking about their other parent, especially if you ask them outright to say what they think about the other parent while they know they are being recorded. This pressures the child to say what you think is the right thing. Plus, recordings like these aren’t likely to be admissible in court.
- DO NOT keep your ex-spouse from speaking to your child. It doesn’t matter what your feelings are towards the other parent, they are still your child’s mother/father. You will not improve your case for custody by cutting off the other parent.
- DO NOT keep any information about your child from the other parent. Information from your child’s school, doctors, etc, should all be shared between both parents. This shows that you are willing to co-parent well and that you can be trusted as the primary legal guardian.
- DO NOT make decisions regarding the child without speaking first with the other parent or obtaining a court order. Separated parents often find it hard to agree on decisions regarding the child. Though you are separated, you do not have the right to make decisions on behalf of your child without the input of the other parent – or without a court order. Once the court determines a custody arrangement, it is likely that one parent will have decision-making authority about certain issues. But, many custody arrangements will require both parents to discuss the issue and come to an agreement together – even if one parent has decision-making authority.
It is crucial that you have an attorney experienced in child custody and child support arrangements on your side during the custody case. Contact our family law partner, Missy Foard, to schedule a consultation today.