Whether you are seeking to establish custody or alter an existing parenting plan, everything you do can be used against you. The following are some mistakes to avoid while establishing child custody and visitation.
Missing child support payments
The purpose of child support is pretty obvious, it is to provide financial support for the benefit of the child. The consequences of failing to pay child support range from losing visitation rights, having your license suspended, wages garnished, and even jail time (these are possible consequences for not paying timely as well). These punishments seem harsh, but the courts view the failure to pay as having a negative effect on the child/children. Avoid all these penalties by simply keeping current with your child support.
Posting recklessly on social media
Almost everyone is on social media these days. We use it as a way of keeping track of family and friends, news, fashion and to vent about current events in our lives. A lot of times, people complain about their ex and post vague negative comments which are obviously about their ex. More commonly, people post pictures of their night out, selfies, pictures of cocktails and even kissing someone in public. Many people don’t realize all this behavior along with texts messages, emails, instant messages and photos from social media can be used against them in court. Be careful what you post and say because it can be used against you in court.
Letting your emotions rule your decisions
During a custody battle, whether you’re still married or not, emotions are bound to run high. Your responsibility as a parent is to reign in those emotions. In every custody case, the judge will rule in what they deem is in the best interest of the child. If it comes out that you are having angry outbursts in front of the child/children, badmouthing the other parent, or even badmouthing the judge for his/her decisions, this can certainly affect the outcome of the case. No question this is a tough time, but you have to maintain control of your emotions at all times.
One of the easiest ways to be declared an unfit parent is to be arrested or investigated for criminal activity. Being arrested, even if you are not charged or convicted, paves the way for the other parent to prove that you are unfit as the custodial parent. Actual arrests, not speeding or parking violations, can and have in the past, been used against the other parent. So don’t get arrested.
Disobeying a court order, even if temporary
Some family courts will put in a temporary order that may remain in place until trial or a final arrangement can be reached. Disobeying these orders or disregarding them can give the impression that you do not have respect for the court or the judge’s authority. When the time comes for the judge to make a decision, this will hurt your case. However, this does not mean that you must agree to a visitation schedule that does not work for you. Talk with your attorney to work out a visitation schedule.
Vacation with the children without consent
Before you decide to take the child/children away for some fun in the sun, or even a fall break, make sure that you get permission from the other parent first. Taking the child/children away on a vacation without prior approval, even one just hours away could result in a charge of kidnapping and could result in an arrest. This may cause you to have restricted or no custody. Always make sure that you obtain the other parent’s permission before taking them out-of-town. They should be aware of where you are going, the dates you will be gone and an additional phone number where you can be reached.