There are not many other types of court cases that are more emotional and stressful than a child custody case. Because emotions are running high during these types of cases, parents can sometimes fall into pitfalls and traps, which can ultimately hurt their case down the road. Here are some tips for parents going through child custody cases.
- Talk to Your Children. Parents should NEVER actively involve children in any pending child custody litigation. These are more “adult” conversations for the parents, their attorneys and the court. However, if a child has questions or concerns about what the child custody case, parents should try to answer the child’s questions and address the child’s concerns. These conversations should be age appropriate conversations, and should not, in any, disparage the other parent. A child shouldn’t feel that they have to take sides through this process. Even though the children aren’t actively involved in the litigation, they will still know what is going on, and most likely will be stress because of it.
- Try to Co-Parent with the Other Parent: Even during a custody case, parents must still co-parent. This may be especially difficult with child custody litigation pending, but to the greatest extent possible, both parents should try to co-parent in a civil and reasonably amicable manner. Co-parenting with hostility and resentment can actually hurt a parent’s side of a custody case in court.
- Don’t Withhold Visitation: Some parents think that withholding visitation from the other parent will improve their odds in court. Oftentimes this strategy backfires. If there is a valid order from court granting the other parent parenting time with the children, then the order must be complied with, absent exigent circumstances. An example of exigent circumstances is if granting visitation would put the child’s health or safety at risk.
As difficult and stressful as it may be, it is important for parents who are going through a custody case to keep their calm, continue to co-parent with the other parent, and also be there for emotional support for their children.
It is also important for parents to listen to the recommendations of their attorney through this process. The attorney is a neutral third party who can take the emotion out of the process. A parent’s attorney can develop a cohesive legal strategy to prevail in the custody case.