Child custody is frequently a number one priority for divorcing parents preparing to end their marriage. While the courts have adopted a more collaborative view on how divorced parents should share custody and parenting duties, there are still many key decisions that need to be made to determine these arrangements and allocate responsibilities and rights among the two parents. Unfortunately, many parents do not realize that their behavior outside the courtroom can be a real deterrent to their ultimate child custody goals. Below, Weis + O'Connor LLC takes a look at five common child custody mistakes parents make when approaching the divorce process.
Badmouthing Your Spouse
No one is expecting a divorce client to be very happy with their soon-to-be-ex-spouse, however, it is important to be cordial, especially in public. When it comes to custody, the court wants to see that parents are able to encourage their child's relationship with the other parent. If there is a record of a parent continually badmouthing their spouse in public (and that also means online/on social media) the court may be hesitant to trust someone who already appears to be vindictive.
Influencing Your Child
If your child is old enough, the court may be interested in knowing what their custody preference is. What the court is not interested in seeing is a parent trying to influence or "coach" their child into saying things that they may not mean. Remember that the court is trying to determine what the best interests of the child are—not what the best interests are for the parents.
Making Parental Decisions on Your Own
It's understood that, during the divorce process, a family's day-to-day routine is somewhat in flux. Parents are usually trying to navigate this new reality while still ensuring that their child experiences relative normalcy. During this period, however, it is important that parents still communicate on significant parenting decisions having to do the child's health, education, and overall well-being. One parent making these decisions alone demonstrates to the court that the parent cannot communicate or continue to be collaborative with their co-parent.
Living with a New Romantic Partner
It's not unusual or one or both spouses to already be romantically involved with new partners during the divorce process. However, for parents, these circumstances should be handled with care. The court wants to see that both parents can provide their children with continuity post-divorce and, in most cases, living with new adults does not contribute to that continuity.
Having Unreasonable Expectations
Gone are the days when custody is regularly "awarded" to one parent and not the other. The court now believes that preserving a significant role for each parent is key to every child's upbringing (barring any parental unfitness). Clients who aggressively pursue sole or overwhelmingly favorable custody arrangements to punish their spouse or leverage other parts of the divorce process in their favor are often not viewed favorably by the court.
If you are facing a divorce and have concerns about child custody, we invite you to contact us at Weis + O'Connor LLC today. Our Columbus divorce attorneys are dedicated to protecting the interests and asserting the rights of our clients throughout the divorce process and are ready to be your ally during this difficult and uncertain time.Our advocates are ready to hear from you. Call our firm at (614) 428-0266 today.