One of the things that can make divorce particularly challenging is children. Not only are both parents invested in spending quality time with their kids, but also the children are often unprepared emotionally for this time of emotional upheaval. Even full grown adults find dealing with divorce hard to swallow. Because divorces tend to foster negative feelings between the parents, they can often make mistakes that cost them during the child custody hearings.
Here are 5 mistakes to avoid when divorcing as parents.
1. USING YOUR KIDS AS WEAPONS/ GO-BETWEENS
It can often be easy to fall into the bad habit of sending a message to your spouse via your child. However, this can be potentially damaging to your kids. Your children love you both, and to them, this isn't a contest where one parent wins. Divorce can often raise questions for kids they may be unprepared to deal with:
- Is the divorce my fault?
- Do my parents still love me?
- Am I still important?
If you put your conflict ahead of their well-being, this will not only affect them emotionally, and potentially psychologically, it could have an impact on your child custody hearing. A judge in a child custody case is in charge of deciding what is in your child's best interests, not yours. Likewise, a social worker or other psychological professional may be assigned to your family before the decision is made. If he or she notices you are putting your own petty feelings ahead of your child's well-being, this could affect the final decision about physical and legal custody.
2. BAD-MOUTHING YOUR SPOUSE
While it may feel great to tell everyone about how horrible your spouse is, doing so isn't recommended. This sort of behavior has a tendency to follow you. For example, if you start saying negative things about your spouse to a mutual friend, and it gets back to your spouse, his or her attorney can use what you said against you in court to prove you're irresponsible or have a bad temper. An inability to be civil might also be frowned upon in child custody cases because, if you're this mean to your spouse, you could redirect that anger toward your kids. It may not be true, but that doesn't mean your spouse's attorney won't try to swing the argument in that direction.
3. NOT OBEYING COURT ORDERS
One of the worst things you could do for your case is displaying your contempt for the court. There's no better way to do this than by violating temporary restraining orders (TRO). A judge might issue one to help decide short term arrangements for child custody, living arrangements, and bill distribution. Likewise, a TRO might be granted if your spouse thinks you'll spend money recklessly before property division or if he or she thinks you might be a threat to them or your children. If you do anything that goes against a TRO, a judge will view your behavior as disrespectful and irreverent to the court. This could negatively affect the outcome of your child custody hearing because he or she might see you as irresponsible and unfit to care for your kids full-time. He or she might also order your visitation to be supervised.
4. NOT PAYING CHILD SUPPORT
Paying child support is important. It's the financial burden you bear to contribute to the growth and well-being of your child. Even if they don't live with you, you still want to ensure your child has everything he or she needs. If you stop paying, your spouse may be unable to make up the deficit. However, if you can't pay because of a change in financial circumstances, you don't have to continue paying your average amount. You can ask the court to modify the original child support order to reflect your change in circumstances until you get back on your feet.
5. NOT HIRING A LAWYER
While you and your spouse may be able to agree on some things, partners often disagree when it comes to sharing custody. Both spouses love their kids, and both want physical custody of them. Because of this, it can often be difficult to come to an agreement. If you have to get a judge to make the decision for you, you want a representative there to offer an excellent argument as to why you deserve physical custody, legal custody, or joint shared custody of your child. This is especially true if your spouse hired an attorney. An experienced child custody lawyer understands the best way to present a case and make solid, convincing arguments in court, which will offer you a huge advantage.
If you need help with your divorce, child custody hearings, or modification, talk to one of our skilled Murrieta divorce attorneys. Westover Law Group is a local law firm that assists family throughout Southern California, Murrieta, and the surrounding communities. Our goal is to help you and your family move forward to a new chapter in your life. Let us try and get you the results you need in your case.
Contact us at (951) 643-0085 or fill out our online form to schedule a confidential case review today.