There is lots of talk about things to do to make your custody case better, but let’s talk about what you can do to destroy it. These are the “don’ts“ to keep in mind if you are heading into this kind of dangerous territory.
First, are obvious things people know like do not physically abuse your children, do not pass out drunk while you have them or let any substance abuse issues you have impact your parenting, and do not get yourself arrested, amongst others. These are obvious. There are other issues pertaining to mental health and when that has an impact on your parenting, that can also allow a court to decide to restrict your time with your children. But let’s talk about three very basic things that go beyond these more obvious deal breakers.
These are three things I see happen when one party has custody and acts in a way that causes them to lose it. These are the things not to do!
Refuse to Coparent
Your child has another parent. You may feel like you even hate that other parent, but that doesn’t mean you get to act like you have the upper hand because you have more parenting time. Do not refuse to coparent, do not cut the other parent out of decisions that they have a right to be in, and do not fail to respond to emails and messages from the other parent. Refusing to coparent and unilaterally acting, looks bad to the court, is unhealthy for your children, and can make you lose custody. Courts, parenting evaluators, and guardian ad litems recognize this behavior and take it seriously.
You might think that by making claims that have some truth to them but may not be entirely true, it is okay, and you are going to strengthen your case for parenting time. Some people, not most people, but some people will make up allegations of domestic violence, substance abuse, or other obvious way bad behavior by one parent to get parenting time. Sometimes a party won’t even make sexual abuse allegations with no merit. It should go without saying, but I have learned to state the obvious: do not make false allegations, no matter how much you think it might help you. At the end of the day, the truth often prevails and even if there is a partial truth to what you are saying, it will destroy your credibility if you embellish the truth, add on details, or blatantly lie. Don’t do it, it is not worth it, and having credibility destroyed and false allegations leads to a loss of parenting time.
Violating Parenting Orders
If you have a temporary or final parenting plan in place, follow it! You would think that would be obvious, but we see parties start to disregard their parenting plan all the time, and start to make their own rules, or simply don’t follow it because they don’t like it. A parenting plan is a court order and has been laid out for what’s in the best interest of the child. Following it is not optional. If parents agree to deviate from the plan that is completely fine and it’s by agreement, can even be a good thing. Making your own unilateral decisions not to follow a plan, withhold parenting time, don’t drop your kids off when you are supposed to or at all, cut the other parent out of decisions laid out in the plan, or any of these things, can result in a finding of contempt against you and eventually lead to you losing parenting time.
These are three big ways to lose time that might not be so obvious. If you find yourself or someone you love going through a divorce with children or parenting plan action, keep these in mind and you will be on more solid ground.