Since emotions can be high during the custody process, a lawyer will advise on how to get the best outcome for your family.
Child custody can be one of the hardest things parents face, and while parenting together is becoming the norm in today’s society, it has significant implications for all parties.
Organizing custody arrangements for your children and handling conflicts between parents can take a huge toll on both parents and children.
Many emotions can arise during this procedure if some parents are not focused on children and do what is best for the children.
Do not let stress and emotions guide your behavior and actions, which can often have catastrophic effects on the outcome of your case.
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“A lot of emotions can arise during the custody process when some parents are not focused on children and do what is best for the children.” Source: iStock
Common mistakes parents make while in custody
When it comes to custody, parents are likely to face many hurdles, including legal, emotional, and financial barriers. So it is important to be prepared for it.
Based on my experience with custody cases over the past 20 years, there are common mistakes parents make during these legal proceedings.
Because of this, I’ve shared the top five things not to do – followed by my top five tips for parents on what to do to have a less stressful custody case.
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What not to do in custody negotiations?
1. Don’t talk badly to the child about the other parent
The most common mistake mothers and fathers make is when they speak poorly to each other or in front of the child, which can affect the child’s emotional wellbeing. If you denigrate the other parent, the court will look at you unfavorably.
2. Don’t refuse to communicate with the other parent
Refusal to communicate with the other parent can undermine the relationship between a parent and child, and as such a court will judge any parent who does so badly. Many separated parents prefer to use a platform like nolawyers.com.au, which has a sound indicator that ensures communication is civil.
3. Do not prevent access to the child (with exceptions)
Unless the child is at risk, do not prevent them from contacting the other parent. If you withhold your child from the other parent for no legitimate reason, you may lose basic child care.
4. Don’t exercise your child
Let your child speak for themselves, manipulation of the child by a parent looks made up and only damages your reputation in the eyes of the court.
5. Do not put your own interests before those of your child
We often see situations where the parents’ agendas are presented as if it were in the children’s best interest. The court sees this over and over and can easily tell when the parents are not focused on children.
Before making a decision, ask yourself whether what you are doing is really in your child’s best interests. If the answer is no or maybe it should be avoided.
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5 tips for parents on what to do in custody negotiations
1. Tell the truth about drug use or alcohol
So often do parents try to hide or deny their use of drugs or alcohol. While it is important to minimize drug and alcohol use, it is important, first, to be honest with the court about this behavior, and second, to seek help in changing the behavior.
2. Keep the children together
Attempting to separate the children may suggest to the court that the parent is not focused on children. The court usually doesn’t like separating children unless they have no other choice.
3. Be adequately prepared for court specialists / experts
Many judges rely heavily on the professional and independent recommendations of the family reporter.
In preparation for a family report interview, it is important that you let your children speak for themselves and not say anything abusive or defamatory about the other parent.
4. Keep breakup communications away from your children
Make sure that communication between parents regarding the separation and negative emotions does not appear right in the presence of your child.
5. Leave children out of court cases
Family law proceedings are only intended for parents. If you drag your children into an argument, you can continue to hurt yourself and especially your children in the future. So leave children out of the process.
Tracey McMillan has been a family attorney for over 20 years, one of the few parental coordinators in Australia and the creator of the new digital platform nolawyers.com.au.