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The Top 3 Mistakes That Parents Make in Custody Cases

Almost every judge will tell you the same pet peeves in custody cases, and they are shown below. Although parents are pitted against each other in an adversarial way in court, judges view relationships in a different way when children are involved. Their assumptions are based on your child’s viewpoint, not on which parent is better or which one “deserves” the children. Like King Solomon, judges cannot split the baby, so they are forced to make a plan B decision in every single case.



Mistake #1: Withholding Visitation

If a child resides primarily with you, be reasonable about visitation, especially when there is no order or separation agreement. Don’t consider the other parent’s bad behavior as a way for you to punish him or her by discouraging visitation. Don’t let your kids dictate when they will or won’t visit the other parent, especially if there is a court order requiring a certain schedule. You are the parent. Strongly encourage them to visit so they don’t grow up resenting the fact that they missed out on a relationship with the other parent. Even if the other parent is not a great parent, he or she is still a parent.

Mistake #2: Not Paying Child Support

If you pay child support, don’t stop paying it because you aren’t getting to visit with your child. Custody and child support are completely separate claims, and you cannot legally fail to pay because you don’t get me with a child. Do your best to consider your child, not whether you are right or wrong. Your child is an innocent third-party in your divorce or custody battle. You do him or her no favors when you possibly keep your child from doing things the other kids do, such as participating in extracurricular activities. It’s not the job of grandparents to support your child. Leaving your child at the mercy of other people makes him or her feel like a burden.

Mistake #3: Putting Kids in the Middle

Don’t grill your children about the other parent’s cash-flow, friends or significant other. They aren’t miniature private investigators. Let them be kids. A child should never feel guilty for loving the other parent. It is unkind for one parent to talk badly about the other parent and the other family in the presence of your child or discuss them in an unflattering way. Remember, your child is part of that family too. Give kids the opportunity to have as many loved ones in their lives as they can. You should never “unload” on your children, and don’t discuss child support with your child, or whether you get to spend time with him or her. Remember, your child is not your attorney, therapist or advocate. A counselor can be a valuable resource by helping you unload the baggage of your dispute with the other parent. It can also give your child an opportunity to share concerns with a neutral adult. Judges favor counseling. Judges can’t “fix” families but they can send them to someone who is trained to assist mending family relationships.



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