Parents involved in child custody disputes are often faced with tough decisions about what is best for their child. These decisions are made even more difficult when one parent disagrees with the other as to the best custody solution for their family. Despite wanting to do the best for their child, parents may accidentally damage their chances of being awarded custody. Below are five common mistakes to avoid when facing a child custody dispute.
1) Not adhering to a court order
When a court order is issued in a child custody dispute, it is important that both parents precisely adhere to its terms. Parents sometimes violate a court order because they are angry at the other parent or feel that the Order is unfair. A parent may violate the court order because they don't understand the terms, or they may feel that the order no longer is in the best interests of their child. Regardless of the reason for violating the court order, the court has the power to hold the violating party in contempt of court. If you are held in contempt, you could ordered to pay the other parent's attorney fees, be placed in jail, or if you are the custodial parent, lose custody of your child. It is therefore always best to use the court system to amend the custody order, rather than attempting to remedy the situation yourself.
2) Letting your emotions get the best of you
During a custody battle, parents often experience overwhelming emotions including anxiety, anger, and sadness. Though parents are only human, it is important to not let your emotions get the best of you as actions you may take when you are upset can have negative repercussions. You could lose custody of your child. Examples of such behavior include physical or verbal altercations with the other parent, making disparaging comments about the other parent to the child, and self-medicating with drugs or alcohol. These emotional behaviors can be used by the other parent to show that it is not in the best interest of the child to be in your custody.
3) Breaking the law
Breaking the law during a custody dispute is one of the most serious ways a parent can damage their credibility with the court and ruin their chances at gaining or maintaining custody of their child. All laws should be followed at all times during the dispute: these include everyday laws such as not drinking and driving, as well as custody-related laws such as entering the other parent's home without permission, or taking the child across state lines without the other parent's knowledge. Once damaged, it is extremely difficult for a parent to regain credibility with the court.
4) Not fully understanding the custody order
When a custody order is issued by the court, it is important that each parent understand the terms of the order fully. Not understanding the custody order puts you at risk of violating the order on accident, and violations can lead to being found in contempt of court. If there are portions that you do not understand, make sure you ask questions and clarify any confusion with your attorney.
5) Denying your spouse access to the children
In North Carolina, until a child custody order is issued, both parents have equal rights to the child. This means that each parent has the right to spend time and communicate with the child, as well as make decisions regarding the child's educational and medical needs. Denying your spouse access to the child will be looked upon unfavorably by the judge and can hurt your chances at custody.
If you are a parent in North Carolina who is involved in a custody dispute, Family Law Attorney Regina Taylor can help you navigate the custody process. Call today to learn how we can help.