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What Should You Not Do in a Child Custody Case?

Screaming couple. Unhappy couple. Relationship problems. Divorce concept.

When parents are fighting for custody of their children, there are things they should avoid. Any action that makes it appear as if they don’t have the children’s best interest at heart could sway the court’s opinion and hurt their custody case.

Screaming couple. Unhappy couple. Relationship problems. Divorce concept.

What Should People Avoid During a Custody Case?

When couples with children divorce, they must make difficult decisions about the custody of their children. Many parents work together to create a custody arrangement that works for them and their children. However, some couples need the court to determine custody. When parents are involved in a custody case, they should avoid:

  • Engaging in verbal altercations with their ex-spouse or children. When parents instigate or engage in shouting matches with an ex-spouse, family court judges may think it indicates a lack of self-control. Parents should also avoid verbal altercations with their children. The court will appoint a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) to interview the children and the GAL may take the children’s descriptions of their parents’ behavior into account when recommending a custody arrangement to the judge.
  • Physical confrontations. Parents should avoid all physical altercations with their ex-spouse and their children. Physical fights may lead to assault charges or child abuse charges, which greatly reduce a parent’s chance of gaining custody. 
  • Neglecting child support payments. Parents should make all child support payments and fulfill any agreed-upon parental responsibilities. When parents fail to meet their obligations, the court may think they don’t have the children’s best interest at heart.
  • Exposing children to new partners. Introducing children to new parental figures too soon after a separation can confuse children and create unnecessary drama. 
  • Traveling with children without notifying the other parent. Although parents may have the right to take their children on a trip without the other parent’s permission, they should always tell them first. Parents have a right to know where their children are, and notifying them is common courtesy.
  • Making unilateral parenting decisions during the case.  Even though there may be no court order with parenting guidelines or rules in place, parents who show that they are able to “co-parent” with the other parent during the case can obtain an advantage in receiving a favorable recommendation from a GAL.  An important factor in determining custody is whether a parent is able to “co-parent” or communicate well with the other parent.  Thus, during a custody case, a parent should keep the other parent informed regarding the children’s activities and decisions (i.e.: school, health care appointments, extracurricular activities, etc.) — even if the activity doesn’t fall during the other parent’s parenting time.

Many parents find navigating a child custody case difficult. While the well-being of the children is the most important consideration, many parents have trouble making calm and rational decisions when dealing with heightened emotions. A child custody lawyer can help parents make the right decisions for the well-being of their children and reach a workable custody arrangement.

Uncontested divorce lawyer Denise Erlich is passionate about helping divorcing couples in the greater Chicagoland area transition to their new life as seamlessly as possible. Ms. Erlich patiently guides her clients through every step of the divorce process and provides clients with candid advice about their case and legal options, so they can make informed decisions about their future.

Years of Experience: More than 20 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: Illinois State Bar Association U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois
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