Custody Battles: 10 Things That Can Sabotage Your Case
Besides taking a toll on your mental and physical health, the whole divorce process will also pinch your pockets. With custody battles and the fight for the right to be with your child also in the mix, the stress is amplified. At times like these, it is normal for you to act irrationally. However, these bouts of anger and frustration can have a detrimental effect on your child custody battle.
It is important to remember that your behavior and all your actions will be closely scrutinized by the court, so it is necessary to behave accordingly. Here, we will discuss the various factors considered by judges when they are presiding over a child custody battle. We will also cover what can be used against you in a custody battle and how to avoid mistakes that can harm your case.
How does the court resolve a child custody battle?
When dealing with a child custody battle and determining the best solution for the family, the court puts emphasis of the “best interests of the child”. The court is responsible for analyzing the situation and deciding the kind of placement that works best for the development of the child. Here are some of the main points considered by a judge when determining the best interests of the child:
- The amount of time the child has spent under the care of each parent and any other person/s
- The relationship the child has with parents, siblings or other people with whom they spend a significant amount of time
- The adjustment of the child to their home, educational institution and community
- Any proof of spousal or child abuse
- The ability and the willingness of the parents to care for and support the child
There are several other factors that the judge takes into consideration when deciding what works best for a child of divorce. Let’s look at what can be used against you in a custody battle:
Turning your child against your ex
‘Alienation of affection’ is a situation wherein one parent constantly puts down the other in front of the child. As a result of parental alienation, the child is often left feeling confused and frustrated. The court is highly intolerant towards this kind of behavior and comes down hard on any parent attempting to negatively influence the reputation of the other parent. Regardless of how frustrated you are at your ex, it is unwise to show those ill feelings and anger towards them, especially in the presence of your child. Violating the Texas Family Code will surely sabotage your child custody battle.
Refusing to cooperate with the other parent
Knowing that your marriage is ending and the time you normally spend with your child is at stake can make you downright resentful toward your ex. It is normal to feel like you can never work in harmony with a person you can’t even stand. But since the court wants you and your ex to work together towards a common goal, you will have to settle your differences to meet the best interests of your child.
Reluctance to cooperate with your former spouse can severely hurt your case even if you think you can do a better job single-handedly. Despite your differences, as parents, you and your ex want the same thing – to give your child the best life possible. The court wants to be sure of this when determining the result of a custody battle. Cooperating with your partner is crucial not just for the court, but also for your child who already has a hard time transitioning into a new life. Going forward with mutual respect will make it easier for you, your ex, and your child to get used to living in a certain way.
Physical and verbal altercations
Did you know that physically assaulting someone is a criminal offense for which you could land in jail? Even if your former spouse does not press charges against you, an incident like this has the potential to paint a picture in front of the judge. Since the judge will only be privy to certain facts and information, hitting your ex or child is a strict no-no. Regardless of the reason, or how mad you may be at your ex, the only thing a physical assault will do is sabotage your child custody battle.
Keep in mind that a parent with physically abusive tendencies is frowned upon by the court. If there has been an isolated incident in the past, bring it up the next time you face a heated confrontation with your ex. Let them know that you are susceptible to bouts of anger and leave the room. Resume the conversation when you have calmed down, but never raise your hand on your ex or child no matter what.
If you have been at the receiving end of a physical assault by your former spouse, retaliating is never the option. Whether you are male or female, call the police and report the incident immediately. The court takes matters of physical and domestic violence very seriously as they create developmental challenges for children who witness them at a young age. They also pose long-term emotional problems for such children, making it a highly intolerant subject for the court. Contact a contested divorce lawyer to learn more about the impact of domestic violence on your child.
While verbal altercations are not the same as physical assaults, yelling at your former spouse or child can still affect your case. It is normal for regular conversations with your ex to turn frustrating when your marriage is dissolving. If your temper rises when talking to your ex, get up, leave the room, and calm yourself before continuing the conversation. If you don’t, one thing can lead to another and a verbal argument could easily turn into a physical altercation. Even if you do not have the tendency to be violent, a few minutes of yelling and screaming can make your temper seem out of control. Whenever the incident is brought to light in court, it will surely hurt your case and turn the tide in your ex’s favor.
Child abuse is one of the most tragic ways to sabotage your child custody battle. A parent causing non-accidental harm to their child is defined as an abuser. Child abuse can be physical or emotional. Examples of physical child abuse include the following:
- Sexual abuse
- Any other act that causes injury to the child
Examples of emotional child abuse, on the other hand, include:
- Shaming the child
- Withholding affection
- Isolating the child
- Excessive punishment
Courts are particularly attentive to emotional abuse in children, especially when a parent has a history of substance abuse or mental illness. Abusing your child, physically or emotionally, will almost certainly result in the court awarding sole custody to your ex.
The last thing you want to do when fighting a child custody battle is to get arrested. Whether it is disorderly conduct, larceny, driving under the influence or any other reason, getting arrested at the time of a court case is a strict no-no. People with criminal records are never considered good role models by the court. Since the purpose of the child custody battle is to determine what is best for the child, a parent who gets arrested is almost certain to lose the case.
Getting arrested and convicted of a crime will put you at risk of foregoing all your custodial rights until the criminal case is settled. Moreover, not only is it impossible to take care of your child from jail, but once you are released, re-establishing your parental rights could turn into an extremely daunting endeavor. It is crucial to remain on your best behavior throughout the child custody battle and refrain from jeopardizing your case. Don’t let your anger and stress towards your current situation make you lash out elsewhere and make matters worse.
Neglecting your parental duties
Before taking the case to court, most parents try to work out an arrangement that works best for the family. They decide how much time the child will spend with each of them, their rights and responsibilities towards the child, and other important details for the time being. Sometimes, parents even get a temporary order from the court until the final verdict of a child custody battle is rolled out. It is imperative for parents to respect the initial agreement and honor their rights and responsibilities towards the child.
If you are under a temporary custody agreement, make sure you exercise those parental rights to the best of your abilities. Showing up late or missing your time with your child can show you in bad light. It tells the judge that you don’t have your priorities straight. In fact, it points towards negligence on your part, making it crucial to make the most of each minute with your little one.
You don’t always have to take them to Water World or McDonalds. Sometimes, even mundane tasks like doing homework with them or engaging in less-interesting activities shows the court that you’re invested in the holistic development of your child. And at the end of the day, that’s what the court wants – for you to always be there and be responsible for your child.
Moving in with someone new
As hard as divorce is on a couple, it is harder still on a child. Their whole world falls apart when their parents admit that they no longer love each other and decide to live separately. While coping with a life-changing situation like this, seeing a parent fall in love with a new person makes it all the more difficult for kids to rationally accept their new reality. Even the court advises parents to refrain from exposing the child to their new partner while the custody battle rages is ongoing. The best you can do is wait until legal matters have ended, and only then introduce your child to your new partner.
Some parents find it hard to cope with the stress of a divorce and resort to substances to feel better even if only for a while. Relying on substances often sees them slip into a downward spiral and develop a dependence on their vices. When you give into substance abuse, the court will not only award sole custody of the child to your ex, but there will be further ramifications. Even your visits will be supervised and your rights and responsibilities towards your child will be severely affected. Before making it a habit, remember that substance abuse is a reason good enough to sabotage your child custody battle.
Ignoring court orders
If the court has ordered you to pay alimony or child support, it is your responsibility to follow those orders and make those payments on time. Failure to respect the court’s orders shows that you do not respect the laws designed to protect your child. In contrast, following the court’s orders and taking your obligations seriously can help your case to a great extent. It shows the judge that you sincerely care for the child, making it easy for them to trust your willingness to raise the child as best you can.
Making false allegations about your ex in an effort to win the child custody battle can actually make you lose the case. If you exaggerate, or worse, make up things about your ex, these very accusations can turn into evidence against you. The judge will start to question your credibility on every issue if you are guilty of making false allegations. It tells the court that you want to win the case more than being concerned about what is right. This, in turn, shows that you may not be the best parent for your child, or even a good one for that matter.
The need for an experienced divorce attorney to fight your child custody battle
Parents involved in child custody battles end up making so many simple mistakes that ultimately sabotage their case. Hiring an experienced divorce attorney in Richmond, Texas, will make the whole process easier for you. Not only will you be guided all along, but all the tedious paperwork and other legal nuances will be taken care of professionally and skillfully.