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5 Mistakes To Avoid Making During Child Custody

Feb 27, 2024 | Family

If two spouses share a child together, it can amplify all of the emotions and legal nuances that are already tacked onto divorce. Child custody is a delicate process that requires careful consideration and execution to alleviate the significant impact that a family split can have on a child’s well-being.

The purpose of this blog is to shed light on what NOT to do during the custody process so that everything goes as smoothly as possible for not only your sake, but your child’s as well. If you and your spouse have made the decision to get a divorce and have a kid (or multiple kids) together, consider the following 5 mistakes to avoid making!

Mistake 1: Lack Of Communication

There are three major streams of communication that play a vital role in ensuring the success of your child custody arrangement: communication with your attorney, communication with your child, and communication with your co-parent.

Your attorney is an advocate for you and your child’s best interests. Being honest with them about your circumstances, as well as your goals and preferences for your custody arrangement, will give you the best chance at reaching a favorable outcome.

When it comes to your child, they might be too young to fully grasp the concept of divorce, but they will still notice the absence of one parent. If that’s the case in your family, ensure that you spend quality time with your child and use simple language to describe the situation. If your child is a little older, and able to understand why their parents are no longer together, being open and honest about what’s going on is important (without bashing the other parent). Otherwise, they might feel like they can’t trust you.

Communicating with your co-parent is just as important, both during and after custody arrangements are established. Even though you’ve decided to sever the legal ties that bind you, you and your former spouse are still bound by the familial ties through your child. This means that (to a certain degree) your lives will always be entwined, primarily in the years before your child legally becomes an adult. Staying up to date with one another about schedules for holidays and special occasions, expectations, and more is imperative!

The best way to ensure a cohesive environment for your children is to have healthy communication between you and your co-parent. See our blog Co-Parenting Communication: Effective Strategies For Successful Custody Arrangements for more tips.

Mistake 2: Neglecting Your Child’s Best Interest 

It’s understandable that matters relating to divorce and custody can be extremely emotional. Unfortunately, our emotions can cause us to make rash decisions that we might not have otherwise made. When two people divorce, they have to divide up their assets, property, debts, and more. When children are a part of that equation, they can often unintentionally be treated as assets to be divided, rather than individuals who have their own emotions to grapple with.

It is crucial to remember, your children are not something to “win” in divorce. It’s likely that you and your co-parent both want what is best for them, so it’s important to take into account that what you are feeling during this transition is likely magnified for them. You may even want to take your children’s preference into consideration if they’re at the age to express one.

Mistake 3: Ignoring Mediation And Alternative Dispute Resolution

While many couples deem it necessary to pursue a more traditional route to custody, there are alternative methods that can offer a more peaceful environment for you, your co-parent, and your child, like mediation. Mediation is a process where both parents meet with a mediator who evaluates the circumstances of their divorce case, and poses possible solutions for how custody should be arranged. It creates a more collaborative environment for co-parents to alleviate some of the tension and conflict that typically accompanies the traditional custody process.

It’s important not to write this off as an option in your case, as it might be exactly what is needed to facilitate finding an amicable solution. In the state of California, attempting mediation to see if you can reach an agreement is a requirement. 

Mistake 4: Disregarding Court Orders

Disregarding court orders is one of the biggest mistakes you can make when it comes to child custody. If you fail to comply with what a judge has ruled, like failing to pay child support, your child’s other parent can file a custody enforcement action against you. If the court finds that you haven’t paid prior to the hearing, you can be found in contempt, which can possibly turn into an arrest.

If your child’s other parent is the one not paying child support, or failing to abide by your child custody arrangement in another way, it’s important that you keep documentation that can help prove so, otherwise you might not be able to hold them accountable.

Mistake 5: Not Seeking Legal Advice

When it comes to hanging up a picture, or changing your oil, being a “do-it-yourself-er” isn’t such a bad thing. But when it comes to navigating legal processes, especially those pertaining to your children, you need to enlist the help of a seasoned professional. A custody attorney is going to be familiar with the state’s custody laws, have experience creating custody arrangements, and have a strong understanding of potential pitfalls that could derail your custody case. Speaking with an experienced custody attorney can make the difference between a successful custody case, and unnecessary complications.

How Equal Justice Law Group Can Help You

If you and your spouse have made the difficult decision to divorce and you need to create a custody arrangement that is in the best interests of your child, our custody attorneys will efficiently guide you through each step so that you can have both confidence and peace of mind about what lies ahead for your children. You can trust that we will work diligently to protect your parental rights! Call Equal Justice Law Group today to schedule a Consultation and discover your next steps.

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