What You Should Not Do in a Custody Battle

Child Custody


Knowing what you should not do in a custody battle is as important as knowing what to do. If you want 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.

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.


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 the likelihood of favorable custody and placement outcomes.

Confrontations with Your Ex-Spouse and Children

Bad-mouthing your ex-spouse or engaging in verbal or physical altercations with them in front of a judge 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 influence a judge’s decision when determining custody and placement time.

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 during a divorce and tough times, your comments or criticism about an ex-spouse could go 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.

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 their 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.

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 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 are resolved, ensure children are ready to meet your new partner. Ease them into gradually getting to know your new partner, and always respect the time needed to process, understand, and deal with change.

Preventing Contact Between Your Children and Ex-Spouse

If your ex-spouse has received legal visitation rights with your children, you cannot deny them the opportunity. 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 them. If you wish to have full custody of your children, impinging on your ex-spouse’s rights can easily backfire, hurting your custody case.

Disrupting Your Children’s Regular Activities

When considering what can be used against you in a custody battle, disruptions to your children’s lives rank high. Court systems, judges, families—everyone wants divorce to affect children minimally. Therefore, it is 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. Remember that even if you’re willing to disrupt your children’s routines and activities minimally, 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.

Going Against Your Child’s Wishes

Regardless of age, children usually express their wants as to whom they live with, which courts can consider. Despite their own wishes, parents should remember that children might prefer to live with an ex-spouse. Doing so does not keep children from being able to see and visit both parents. However, attempting to limit their voice or ability to choose could be seen as acting against children’s best interests.

Using Your Kids as a Pawn

You should never manipulate your children to take advantage of the situation. These actions will harm their emotional well-being, and you will lose credibility. The odds are higher that the judge will no longer believe you and rule in favor of the other parent.

Violating Court Orders

Any violation of court orders, such as communication and visitation, must be taken seriously. Failing to follow these orders could result in serious legal consequences, including arrest. We recommend always following the orders of the court to avoid any potential complications.

Hostile Communication

You want always to be respectful of the other parent, no matter how you feel about what they did. Never send aggressive texts, emails, or voicemails; these will be used as evidence against you.

For example, the Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act set specific distance, visitation, and communication guidelines. Sending anything aggressive could violate the law and lead to serious legal consequences.

Ignoring Court-Ordered Mediation

Many child custody cases involve court-ordered mediation, and you must attend all sessions. Be open-minded, cooperative, and willing to compromise. Any uncooperative or confrontational attitudes could lead to serious legal consequences.

These are some things about what not to do in a custody battle. We recommend speaking with a skilled child custody attorney to guide you and give objective advice.

What Can Be Used Against You In A Custody Battle?

In a custody battle, numerous factors could be used against you and affect the decision.

Neglect and Abuse

Any documentation proving neglect, physical, emotional, or substance abuse will impact the case. These include medical records, police reports, and eyewitness testimony.

Criminal Background

Any conviction, especially with domestic violence, child endangerment, or drug offenses, could show a lack of parenting skills. The other parent will use this as evidence to demonstrate how you are unfit to raise your children and will limit your access to them.

Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Substance abuse issues are relevant in all child custody cases. The court could order a drug test and will look at DUIs and rehabilitation visits. The other parent’s attorneys could argue that you cannot provide a safe and stable environment for the child.


Bad-mouthing the other parent or trying to turn your children against them is alienation. These actions are taken into consideration by the court and could be used against you.

Mental Health Issues

Any mental health issues will impact how the court sees your ability to care for the child. You must provide a stable environment; the courts will review your mental stability when deciding.

Making False Accusations

Making accusations you know are false against the other parent damages your credibility, and the court may no longer believe you. These issues will harm your case once it is proven you are lying.

Refusing To Co-Parent

Showing an unwillingness to co-parent or work together for the child will be used against you. The courts acknowledge your rights, but you must be flexible and respect the other parent’s rights.

We recommend speaking with a child custody attorney about your case. Child custody laws are complex, and no two cases are the same. A skilled attorney will guide you to make the right decisions. Contact us at 630-305-0222 to schedule your free consultation with a child custody lawyer.


How you can lose custody often revolves around your conduct and ability to uphold responsibilities. But you might also lose by not having the right Illinois child custody lawyer. The Illinois family law attorneys at Wolfe & Stec have the experience 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 learn how we can assist with your custody case.

Attorney Natalie Stec

Natalie M. Stec, born and raised in Illinois, and earned her Bachelor of Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her practice has been concentrated in significant pre and post decree marital and family law cases; including custody, visitation, support, and paternity matters. She has important criminal defense experience in both misdemeanor and felony cases. She is a very dedicated and passionate litigator. [ Attorney Bio ]