Common Mistakes In Disputes About Children

Child custody dispute

Don't Make These Mistakes If You Are In A Battle Over Child Custody Or Child Support.

If you are fighting your spouse about child support or child custody, you are facing a very bumpy road. You can make this road smoother for yourself and your children if you avoid common mistakes such as these:

  • Making private deals with your ex. These cannot be enforced by a court, so if the other parent decides that he or she is not going to abide by the agreement, you are out of luck.
  • Sending nasty or threatening emails. It might feel good today, but tomorrow it could come back to haunt you. The same caution applies to Facebook and all social media as well as to messages on voice mail or answering machines.
  • Failing to prepare. Get all the information you need before going to court, speaking with an attorney or agreeing to anything. This is especially true when it comes to financial information.
  • Not being informed. For example, did you know that if you are married for 10 years, you have rights to the other person's Social Security pension upon retirement? If you are in year nine of your marriage, you might consider waiting a few more months before filing for divorce. It could make a big difference later on.
  • Not getting evidence. Before you make accusations of infidelity or hiding assets, get your facts straight. Don't make frivolous charges of wrongdoing. Your spouse could be cheating on you and still be a good parent. Courts are good at separating the two issues.
  • Not putting the children first. Instead of talking about the deficiencies of the other parent, focus on the kids.CL
  • Claiming that the kids prefer you. That is not really the issue.
  • Being late or failing to show up in court or at hearings, conferences, mediation sessions or anything else that requires your presence. Being punctual is critical.
  • Failing to understand the difference between facts and opinion. What you believe is one thing; what you can prove is another. In other words, don't say the other parent is unfit unless you have verifiable evidence.
  • Arguing with your spouse (or soon-to-be ex-spouse) in front of your children. It will frighten them.
  • Making your child choose between parents. Likewise, do not fill children's heads with stories designed to make them dislike the other parent.
  • Not sticking to a visitation schedule. If you need to make changes, seek a formal modification.
  • Buying an expensive car or taking a lavish vacation when you are claiming that you cannot afford child support. Don't wear obviously expensive clothing to court if you are trying to show that you are broke.
  • Behaving inappropriately. Don't buy illegal drugs or overmedicate with prescription drugs, get stopped for drunk driving, or be physically violent toward anyone. Don't show up in court under the influence - it has happened.
  • Being rude to court officials, your attorney or anyone else who might be making a decision about your case can be a big mistake.
  • Failing to pay mandated temporary or permanent child support. Likewise, you must allow the other parent visitation after it was ordered by the court.
  • Contacting the judge or other court officials directly is uncalled for.
  • Living with a new boyfriend or girlfriend, especially if that person has a criminal history. Even having overnight visitors of the opposite sex can be confusing to children and make you look bad.
  • Trying to bribe children with expensive gifts. Some parents do this so the children will say what the parent wants them to say.
  • Leaving the state or removing a child from the state without informing the other parent. Such moves must be approved.

The big mistake: failing to hire an attorney. An attorney can help you avoid these mistakes and advocate for you and your children. However, you must help - a lawyer cannot do it alone. Not making mistakes such as these is one of the best ways to help yourself and your kids get through the trauma of a custody or support battle.