Common Reasons Parents Lose Custody and How to Avoid Them / by Cassandra Hearn

The issue of child custody is often the most contentious issue in family law cases. Parents obviously place a higher value on their children and their well-being than assets or spousal support, so it is no surprise that emotions can run high while trying to make sure that a custody order is created that is in the best interest of the children. Parents seeking to retain primary custody of the children should be aware that there are some common mistakes parents make before and during custody cases that can end in a loss of custody of the children. Every effort should be made to avoid these pitfalls.

First, remember that your actions can, and will, be brought up in court. This seems like such a simple principle, but some parents will forget this in the heat of the moment. Nasty text messages, denigrating social media posts, or inappropriate behavior during visitation exchanges likely will come back to haunt the spouse making these statements. A judge will look to see which parent is being cooperative with the other parent. A track record of being difficult or inappropriate with the other parent can lead to reduced custody of the children. Before sending that text message or posting that status update, take a step back and consider how the judge will view your response.

In that same spirit, speaking badly about the other parent in front of the children will absolutely lead to adverse consequences, including losing custody in some cases. During litigation, you may feel hurt and angry with the other parent, but it is damaging to your children to see a parent belittle the other parent. It is even more damaging to expose the children to court documents, legal issues, comments about custody preferences, and other topics that should be just for “grown-ups.” Remember that your child loves the other parent. It is best to remain silent about the other parent if you cannot find kind, or at least neutral, words to use about him or her.

Third, failing to provide important information to the other parent is a common mistake. Parent-teacher conferences, medical information, dance recital dates, and other important events should be shared with the other parent as soon as practical. It is not up to you to force the other parent to be involved, but closing off the other parent from having the chance to be involved at all is a way to lose custody. Judges want to see that both parents are actively engaging to keep the other parent involved with the child.

Child custody cases are some of the most emotionally difficult cases for our clients. We have experience helping our clients to take the right steps to avoid common custody mistakes. We look forward to talking with you about your children and how to protect your future with them. Call us today at 619-800-0384 for a consultation.