In child custody cases, most parents want the judge to see them as the best person to raise the child. But quite often, parents make mistakes that hurt their custody claim – knowingly or not. The court evaluates each parent’s behavior throughout the custody proceedings, so if you want to maintain a good chance of getting child custody, you must be aware of the do’s and don’ts. Here are 10 common mistakes that parents make during the child custody process.
- Criticizing or alienating the other parent
Parental alienation is the diminishing of the child’s relationship with the other parent. The court frowns upon this because it believes that a child thrives best when both parents are around. A parent who actively alienates the other shows less concern for the child’s best interests.Typically, non-amicable ex-spouses try to alienate each other by telling their child that mom or dad did bad things, or making the child choose between the parents. However, some cordial spouses may also do this unintentionally. They might criticize their ex to family or friends. They might complain about the other parent in front of the child. It is wise to comment as little as possible about the other parent during the custody dispute.
- Having physical or verbal confrontations with the other parent
An altercation reflects very poorly on parents, especially on the parent who initiated it. In addition to damaging your custody case, it can also result in an injunction or a restraining order against you. Note that this includes not only physical hitting, but also yelling, cursing, insulting, and other verbal attacks. Some parents end up doing these when custody discussions get heated, so part of your mental preparations should be to keep your temper in check throughout the case.
- Denying the other parent their due contact with the child
If the other parent has visitation rights, you must adhere with what the court has ordered. If you don’t, the judge will likely see it as your way of alienating the child from their other parent. Your ex could also request the court to hold you in contempt, which would be an additional legal case for you to hurdle.Similarly, if your child requests to call their mom or dad, don’t automatically turn it down for no reason. Even during your parenting time, your child may occasionally need to communicate with their other parent.
- Damaging the other parent’s property
Not only is property damage a criminal mischief offense in Colorado, it is also terrible behavior for any parent. Still, many divorced spouses are tempted to destroy or get rid of personal property that their ex-wife or ex-husband has left behind. Remember that even if they left their things in your home, those things still legally belong to them. Likewise, avoid destroying items that are considered marital property, because those are jointly owned by you and your ex.
- Exposing the child to a new partner
Colorado follows the “no fault” divorce principle, which means it does not matter whether or not you are to blame in the dissolution of marriage. If there was adultery or infidelity during the marriage, the divorce judge might not even want to know about it.However, introducing your new partner to your child may bring some confusion or discomfort at their tender age and at this sensitive time. This is especially true if you and your child move in with your new significant other, or if you introduce the new person as a new parental figure. Judges do not appreciate such actions, seeing their negative impact on your little one.
- Removing the child from scheduled activities
It is important for children to keep some sense of stability throughout this time of upheaval. This is why courts try to maintain each child’s routines and regular activities, such as school, extra-curriculars, hobbies, and time with friends. You don’t want to upend your child’s regular life unless absolutely necessary.
- Traveling with the child without notifying the other parent
Taking your child out of their usual routes almost always raises a red flag for the other parent as well as for the judge. If you’d like your child to be with you on a trip outside your city, make sure to notify and get the agreement of the other parent first. (Get the permission in writing.) If you are moving to a new residence, follow Colorado’s custody relocation rules.
- Neglecting parental responsibilities or support payments
Any sign of being a neglectful or irresponsible parent can greatly damage your case. Ensure that you fulfill day-to-day parenting tasks when your child is with you, such as providing healthy meals, sending them to school, and picking them up and returning them on time during visitation exchanges. If you have a child support order, strive not to miss a payment, and save bank receipts showing that your sent checks have cleared.
- Lying to the court
In an attempt to present themselves in the best light, some parents embellish facts or fabricate stories, verbally or in documents. This usually gets exposed, and when it does, the parent’s credibility will suffer a huge blow. On top of that, it may lead to certain criminal consequences such as perjury or fraud. Additionally, if you have hired an attorney, lying to them or withholding something from them could only be counterproductive to your claim.
- Coaching the child in your favor
In a Colorado child custody case, experts are brought in to evaluate the parents and the child’s situation. The child, alongside other parties, is typically interviewed by a Parental Responsibilities Evaluator or a Child & Family Investigator.It’s reasonable for you as a parent to want to talk to your little one beforehand, to help put them at ease for the interview. But avoid telling the child what to say, or emphasizing to them the bad things that mom or dad has done. Child custody experts are able to tell when a child has been coached, and when they realize that this is happening, they can include this in their report to the court.
Seeking Legal Help
Do you have concerns about your child custody situation? In Colorado, Goldman Law is a trusted law firm that has helped numerous parents obtain favorable custody outcomes. Please don’t hesitate to approach us about your child custody case so we can provide tailor-suited guidance. Call our office at (303) 656-9529 today.