Child custody battles usually represent the most sensitive and critical part of finalizing a divorce. Couples who can't agree on child custody are usually willing to fight hard in court for an arrangement they find favorable. What many of these clients don't anticipate is that these conflicts prompt the court to take a long and hard look at their family and at their personal behavior. Some of this behavior tends to hurt the parent's chances of petitioning for a custody arrangement they would prefer. Let's take a look at some of the most common mistakes parents make when going into a protracted custody battle:
Making Parenting Decisions by Yourself
Finalizing a divorce can sometimes take a long time and while it is happening, parents are usually acclimating themselves to a new routine. Even so, it is crucial during this process that the parents stay cordial enough with each other to communicate about parenting decisions. When parents make decisions concerning the health or education or well-being of their child without consulting with their soon-to-be-ex-spouse, the court may interpret that as an inability to work together and hurt that parent's chances at a favorable custody arrangement.
Publicly Badmouthing Your Spouse
Divorces are emotional and it is perfectly understandable to harbor some angry feelings towards your spouse during this difficult time. However, it is important to keep in mind that the court wants to see parents who can still encourage their child's relationship with their co-parent. If you have been decrying your spouse at work, to friends, or on social media (and your spouse can prove it), the court will doubt your ability to provide your child with a healthy perspective on his or her family.
Insisting on Sole Custody
Gone are the days where mothers are overwhelmingly favored in custody agreements. Nowadays, the court wants to pursue a custody arrangement in which both parents continue to play a prominent role in the upbringing of children. Unless there are circumstances that call for sole custody (such as domestic violence, or drug or alcohol issues), then petitioning for sole custody may be looked at as a calculated move to use the children to either punish the other spouse or gain bargaining advantage in some other aspect of the divorce—neither of which will be viewed favorably by the court.
Moving in with a New Romantic Partner
Following a divorce, the court is looking to provide children meaningful continuity with what their life was like when their parents were still together. While this will probably now entail separate residences, the court still wants parents to make an effort to contribute to that continuity and not expose the child to living with new adults. While finding new romantic partners is an eventuality for many parents, it is not advised that they be part of a child's domestic life at the onset of a divorce.
Have more questions or concerns about your child custody arrangement? Our dedicated and compassionate Kansas City family lawyers are ready to hear your family's story. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.