When you're involved in a custody battle, you really have to think about every action that you take -- because every aspect of your life can end up being examined in court. You absolutely have to be above reproach, and that means giving the other part -- and the judge in your case -- no cause to question your ability to be an effective parent.
Here are some of the most common ways that experts say that they see parents damage their own custody cases:
1. Denying telephone calls to the other parent
Sure, it may feel intrusive to have your ex-spouse call the house every night to speak to the kids -- but that's an essential part of his or her way of maintaining strong connections. Even if you just have the kids overnight, allow the other parent to call and check on how the child is doing. Remember: It's part of a custodial parent's job to facilitate a good relationship between the child and the noncustodial parent. Demonstrate your willingness.
You can ask the other parent to call at a reasonable hour (before the child's bedtime) and insist that the parent focuses on just the child -- not any aspect of your divorce or custody battle.
2. Picking the kids up from school without notice
Does it sound like a great idea to go get your kids out of day care and school on your day off and take them to the zoo? Wouldn't that show that you're an involved parent?
Think again. The court considers it your job to make sure the kids are getting their education and sticking to a routine. If you're trying to be the "Disney" mom or dad, you won't impress the court.
3. Damaging the other parent's property
Is your ex-spouse making you so angry that you feel like keying his car or kicking the potted plants right off her porch?
Hold your temper in check. Any act of aggression on your part is going to be put under a microscope. The court may start wondering if you lose your temper like this as an adult, what happens when one of the kids frustrates you?
If you need more advice about how to handle a custody battle, a family law attorney can provide numerous insights into the process. An experienced attorney can often make the entire process less painful.