What You Should Not Do in a Custody Battle
Knowing what you should not do in a custody battle is as important as knowing what you should do. That is, if you would like custody of your children, it’s important not to display certain behaviors or demonstrate actions that could limit your custody rights or time granted with your children.
In order to be granted custody and physical placement rights, it’s essential to demonstrate responsibility, even temper, and the utmost concern for your child’s well-being. However, a variety of actions could have the opposite effect. Below are several examples of how you can lose a custody battle.
What Can Be Used Against You in a Custody Battle
When parents divorce, judges and courts decide who has custody of children and how physical placement will be arranged. Legal custody determines who makes major decisions for a child, while physical placement indicates how children’s time with parents will be split.
In making these decisions, judges reviewing custody cases in Illinois will take note of your behavior, especially your conduct around your children and attitude toward your ex-spouse. Avoiding these seven actions below can increase likelihood of favorable custody and placement outcomes.
1. Confrontations with Your Ex-Spouse and Children
Bad-mouthing your ex-spouse or engaging in verbal or physical altercations with him or her in front of a judge simply looks bad. If your children are present, it looks even worse. Judges understand that tempers run high during custody cases, but lack of self-control will not reflect favorably.
Courts could have someone interview children if you and your ex-spouse cannot resolve custody matters. What children reveal about your conduct and attitude can certainly influence a judge’s decision when determining custody and placement time.
2. Being Critical of Your Ex-Spouse
Assume that anything that you do or say could be used against you. Even when speaking with friends and families, it’s best to keep critical thoughts about your ex-spouse to yourself. While it helps to have people to speak with when going through a divorce and tough times, your comments or criticism about an ex-spouse could make its way to the courtroom.
Friends, family members, attorneys, and other parties might have to share information or testimony in court. Any previous comments about an ex-spouse could come to light and reflect poorly on your case.
3. Missing Child Support Payments and Neglecting Parental Duties
Paying agreed-upon child support payments or spousal support payments is best. Failing to do so indicates a parent who does not have his or her child’s best interests in mind, in the eyes of a court. If support payments are court ordered, failing to pay could result in fines, wage deductions, or further legal actions.
Agreed-upon nonmonetary duties must also be upheld. During visitations, be ready to host your children and to have them back at the agreed-upon drop-off time and location. Courts will not look favorably upon hearing that you failed in these responsibilities.
4. Bringing New Partners into Your Children’s Lives
We all know that divorce can be hard on children. The change doesn’t come easy. It can also be tough for children to have to meet new partners. Introducing a new partner to your children can make things confusing or uncomfortable for children. As the consistency of their home lives has already been disrupted, adding another person into the mix can be too much for children.
Even if it’s been some time since your divorce was finalized, keep new partners separate from children until after custody arrangements are complete. And even when custody cases resolve, make sure children are ready to meet your new partner. Ease them into getting to know your new partner gradually and always be respectful of the time needed to process, understand, and deal with change.
5. Preventing Contact Between Your Children and Ex-Spouse
If your ex-spouse has received legal visitation rights with your children, you cannot interfere with letting him or her see your children. Doing so would be illegal. If your ex-spouse reports that you denied visitation rights, a court could limit your current and future child custody and placement rights.
Despite your wishes, if a court decides that your ex-spouse can visit and spend time with your children, you are not free to stop him or her. If you wish to have full custody of your children, impinging on your ex-spouse’s rights can easily backfire, hurting your custody case.
6. Disrupting Your Children’s Regular Activities
When thinking of what can be used against you in a custody battle, disruptions to your children’s lives sit high on the list. Court systems, judges, families—basically everyone—wants the divorce process to minimally affect children. Therefore, it’s best to let children maintain their routines and keep doing their typical activities.
Children should not have to give up extracurricular activities, after-school clubs, sports, and other activities because of a divorce. Keep in mind that, even if you’re willing to minimally disrupt your children’s routines and activities, be sure that schedules don’t overlap with your ex-spouse’s visitation times. Co-parenting means keeping your ex-spouse informed about schedules. Failing to do so could signal disregard for communication and responsibilities, which won’t help during a custody battle.
7. Going Against Your Child’s Wishes
Regardless of age, children will usually express their own wants as to whom they live with, which courts can take into account. Despite their own intentions, parents should remember that children might prefer to live with an ex-spouse. Doing so does not necessarily prevent children from being able to see and visit both parents. But attempting to limit their voice or ability to choose could be seen as acting against children’s best interests.
While courts act in the best interests of children in deciding child custody cases in Illinois, children generally do not get to decide with whom they live following a divorce, regardless of age. However, courts in Illinois will take into account a child’s desires, no matter his or her age.
You Know How You Can Lose a Custody Battle. Now, Get Help on Your Side.
How you can lose a custody battle often revolves around your conduct and ability to uphold responsibilities. But you might also lose by not having the right Illinois child custody lawyer on your side. The Illinois family law attorneys at Wolfe & Stec have the experience needed to help you amicably resolve custody arrangements while working through arguments and confusion that can tie up custody cases.
Even though child custody cases can be difficult on children and their parents, our family law lawyers in Woodbridge and Chicago can work to find effective resolutions while giving you the best chances for success in your custody dispute.
Contact our legal team at 630-305-0222 to find out more about how we can assist with your custody case.