It’s very easy to try to make decisions as fast as possible after a divorce or legal separation, and one area where people tend to do this is child custody. Before you make any decisions in this area, speak to an experienced family law attorney and consider the following mistakes to avoid.
Setting a Poor Time-Sharing Schedule Right After the Initial Split
Your initial schedule for each parent’s time with the kids can become the status quo in your case until some sort of schedule is finalized by the court. If you agree to a hasty schedule, you could end up stuck with all or part of it once everything is final. The court may be reluctant to change it too much because stability and predictable time-sharing is what is best for the kids, and you’ve now been using that thrown-together schedule for months.
Work on creating a schedule with your spouse or partner that reflects your desire for the future schedule as much as possible. This way, you won’t be at risk of being locked into a schedule that is far from the one you wanted and feel is best for your kids. If you encounter scheduling problems with your partner or spouse, let your attorney know about these trouble areas.
Leaving the Children Behind in the Family Home
If you move out immediately and leave the kids in the family home, the parent who remains will likely be viewed as the primary caregiver. Many times in this scenario, the parent who left ends up with a more limited time-sharing schedule, and that is what becomes the status quo in the eyes of the court.
Posting Too Much on Social Media
Social media can be introduced as evidence in your custody case, including your posts and photos. This means doing things such as posting about going on a lot of vacations, drinking or using drugs, or working all the time can be used against you as evidence you don’t focus enough on the kids, don’t have enough time to care for them or are not in the proper state to do so. Statements that indicate you believe your ex is a bad parent won’t help your case, either. These can be viewed as deliberate attempts to prevent the other parent from having a meaningful relationship with your child, which a judge will not look upon favorably and may even penalize you for.
Leaving or Sending Insulting And/Or Threatening Messages
Never communicate with your former spouse or partner without considering what a judge would think about what you just said if they happen to read it. Don’t send any insulting or threatening emails, letters or texts. All communication you have with your ex should be polite, formal and related to your kids.
Not Being Involved Enough with the Kids in Daily Life
Your level of parental involvement will be reviewed by the court as part of the custody determination, but it’s all too easy to get sidelined when you’re splitting from their other parent. Make sure you stay involved in all areas of your child’s life, including medical visits, caring and feeding, education and more. Buy the things your child needs without being prompted or asked repeatedly, but do keep receipts.
The actions you take immediately after you split from your child’s other parent will have a lasting impact on your child custody case. Be sure that the status quo you establish soon after the relationship ends is something you can live with. As your case progresses, these early standards will gain momentum and become difficult to change down the line.