During a custody dispute, no one is at their emotional best. By keeping in mind some basic dos and don’ts, you will increase the likelihood that you’ll be seen by the court as a reasonable person capable of providing a caring, stable home for your child or children.
Keep records of all your written communication, including screenshots of concerning text messages and printed copies of emails. Remember that your ex will also be documenting your behavior and all communication, including your social media posts. They may have even hired a private investigator to monitor your activities. Be aware of how your actions and words will appear to the judge and do not give the judge any reason to doubt your word, sincerity, or judgment.
Communicate respectfully and arrive on time for all family events and pick-ups. Demonstrate that your goal is not to manipulate or hurt your ex, but to do what’s best for your child or children. Spending time with them on the mundane parts of their lives like homework as well as on fun outings like to the movies or sporting events shows that you want to be present day-to-day, not once-in-a-while. Do everything in your power to avoid rescheduling time with your children.
Even if you are not present in the home with your child or children during the week, check in with them and their teachers often to make sure their grades are not suffering and to make sure you are aware of their ongoing projects. Their grades, behavior, and demeanor at school can also indicate how well they are handling the stress and uncertainty of this difficult transition. Keeping their routine and enjoyable activities as unchanged as possible will give them a sense of normalcy and stability.
This is a big transition period for everyone. A therapist will allow your children to work through their feelings with a neutral party who they don’t need to please or appease, and who they won’t feel disloyal to if they complain. Every child reacts differently to the stress of a custody case, and they are witnessing a tremendous upheaval in your life as well. Even one or two sessions can give them valuable coping tools for their stress and fears.
Your feelings of love for your children are not easily demonstrable to the judge, so take every opportunity to indicate you care through your respect of the court, the case, and the judge’s time. Be polite and do as the court requests.
Only communicate with your ex or the opposing party through agreed-upon channels and at reasonable intervals. When you do see your ex, do not fight or argue with them, and never do so in front of the children. Demonstrate you understand boundaries and appropriate behavior, especially when you feel provoked.
It’s certainly tempting, but avoid speaking badly of your ex in front of your children and on social media. Also, never invent negative stories or embellish their shortcomings to try to help your case. Any lies you present will likely be used against you in court and hurt your case.
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