Child custody cases can be challenging for everyone involved, but there are many ways a child custody lawyer can help you get the best possible outcome in your case. Knowing how to avoid major pitfalls while you’re waiting for the courts to make a decision will ensure that you don’t lose parental rights without realizing that you’ve made a misstep in the first place. If you’re stuck in a custody case of your own, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Ask a Child Custody Lawyer: 5 Mistakes to Avoid
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1. Questionable Social Media Posts
Regardless of how you feel about your former partner, the court’s job is to determine what is in the best interest of your children. They are likely to review both parties’ social media accounts to look for negative posts about the other parent, irresponsible behavior, or an inability to provide a safe and stable environment for the kids. If your social media pages are full of bitter posts about your ex and pictures of you partying, it’s time to start cleaning them up.
2. Attacking Your Ex
Tempers are bound to flare during a separation, but that doesn’t mean you should go public with your complaints. Whether on social media or in earshot of your children, badmouthing the other parent is always a no-no. Remember, the courts are looking for stability and civility to protect the children who are likely to be most impacted by the change. If you are seen as being unable to keep your cool or going out of your way to turn your kids against the other parent, you will lose major points in the eyes of the judge.
3. Coaching the Kids
This one goes hand in hand with attacking your ex. When it comes time for the court-appointed advocates to speak with your children and get the scope of family life, coaching them on what to say or how to behave is a sign that you are untrustworthy. Nobody is perfect, and the courts will instantly begin to notice if your kids all have the same answers to their questions or sound like they’ve been given a script. The best thing you can do is avoid putting words in your kids’ mouths and let them answer honestly.
4. Failing to Hold Up Your End of the Deal
In the time period between the breakup and the court ruling, most parents reach an interim agreement about custody and childcare. This temporary agreement, while not necessarily binding, gives the courts a good idea of how well you are going to manage things in the future. If you start missing pickups and dropoffs or refusing to cover some of the kids’ expenses, you could be putting yourself in a tough position.
At the end of the day, the judge wants to see that you’ve been trying your hardest to work together with your former partner to protect your children. If you’ve retaliated in an effort to make your ex’s life harder, but the true effects land on your kids, the judge is not going to look very favorably on your position. Again, this is not about what you feel is fair, it’s about what the judge sees as responsible and reliable behavior on the part of the adults.
5. Not Hiring a Lawyer Soon Enough
The worst thing you can do in any custody case is trying to fight alone. Child custody attorneys in Atlanta, GA are there to help you build a solid case and get the best possible arrangement for you and your kids. They will help you craft a statement to the court, gather any evidence you may have of the other parent being unfit, and prepare you for the questions that the court might have. They can also help ensure that you are ready to negotiate or appeal any ruling that is unsatisfactory, or give you the steps to prove that you deserve more time with your kids.
Hiring a child custody lawyer is especially important if you feel that your former partner has been trying to keep the kids away from you, or is otherwise coaching the kids to turn against you. In addition, if you have prior charges for drugs, alcohol, or other misbehavior, you need an attorney to show that you’ve turned over a new leaf. Hiding from your past just won’t do the job.
Your child custody case does not have to be a nightmare. As long as you avoid these common mistakes in the weeks and months before going to court, you can make a good impression and get the time with your kids that you deserve. Even if you’ve made mistakes in the past, there is still time to prove that you are a worthy parent and turn your case around.