A child custody battle is one of the most stressful experiences a parent can endure. A custody battle is a legal fight between divorced parents about who will take care of a child. Custody battles are hard any way you shake it but there are things parents do that make them even harder. Here are some things you should avoid doing.
Trying to turn your kids against the other parent
Kids are already caught in the middle during a divorce with their emotions running high on both sides. As afraid as you may be of losing access to your children in a child custody battle, avoid putting them even more in the middle of it or trying to turn them against your ex. Badmouthing your ex or telling your children how much more fun you are is the last thing you should ever do. The only thing your children should be hearing from all the adults around them including you, your partner, family, and friends is cooperative co-parenting messages.
Transforming your kids into messengers
Do not use the children to communicate during a child custody battle. Using them as a go-between to even having them deliver messages, paperwork and other sensitive documents is not only selfish, it shows poor judgment and can get you into trouble.
Remember they’ll grow up
Children grow up and with the benefit of age and hindsight are able to see things more clearly. The last thing you want is for your child to look back and see that you were the parent attempting to alienate them from the other parent.
Stopping child support payments
Many parents who are not the primary caregivers fall into the trap of withholding child support payments when they don’t have access to their kids. The argument goes, “If I can’t see my kid, I’m not paying child support.”
First, this exposes your poor judgment and failure to realize that all you’re doing is punishing your child not just your ex. Child support is just that child support. Throwing a tantrum and refusing to support your child is not the flex you think it is.
Second, failing to pay child support has serious legal ramifications that can even end with an arrest. Along with this, it’s important to follow the schedule agreed on and any other interim court orders issued by a judge such as a temporary custody schedule.
Bringing up the mistakes of the other parent
Resist the impulse to try currying favour with the court by pointing out what you consider parenting mistakes made by your ex. Here we’re talking about things like letting children eat fast food or go to bed late not actively harmful decisions. One lawyer says, “Any time a father tries to make the mother look bad for what are essentially parenting choices, it will backfire.”
It’s important to remember throughout the process that this is not about you, it’s about the child or children. Focus on their needs with every decision you make. Is a long, drawn-out acrimonious child custody battle in their best interest? Is there any other way you can settle this? The children are the most vulnerable people in the equation. They don’t have a voice and don’t have high-powered lawyers fighting for them, which means they need their parents to prioritize their needs. Do that.
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