Do's and Don'ts of Custody STAFF PICK

Karen Ann Ulmer

Written by  Pro

Family Law Attorney

Contributor Level 13

Posted over 4 years ago. 3 helpful votes



DO NOT agree to an Order, even a temporary order, unless you are prepared to follow it for awhile

One of the common mistake people make when custody first becomes an issue is agreeing to something that they believe is "temporary". Once you agree to a custody schedule, even if it is intended to be temporary, chances are that you will be stuck with that schedule for much longer than you anticipated. Court is slow. If you have a temporary order, it could end up being a year before you get a hearing and a new schedule. Your best bet, even if the other parent is keeping the child from you is to get a hearing and let a Judge decide unless you are willing to keep the temporary agreement in place for a long time.


DO NOT involve your children in your disputes with the other parent

No matter how angry you may be at the other parent, no matter how justified you may feel, you should never let your children hear comments that are derogatory about the other parent. No matter how old your children are, keep your disputes private. Children have enough to deal with and it is unfair to burden them with your issues, especially when it involves the other parent.


DO treat the other parent as you would want to be treated

Remember, you are both parents. You both make mistakes, you both might be late or forget things. Treat each other with respect and always treat the other parent how you would want to be treated. Show up on time, call if you are going to be late. Return things that come to your house, lend things that they might need. DOBeing amicable for your children serves many purposes, including teaching them how to get along during conflict.


DO remember that your children wouldn't exist if it wasn't for the other parent

When things are at their worst, or you have a really horrible parent on the other side, and it is difficult for you deal with that person or find any good qualities about that person, remember this...your child wouldn't exist but for that other person. Be grateful for their existence. If you can't find anything good about them, be thankful that they existed to give you the opportunity to have that child or children and show your gratitude from that mindset.


DO NOT file contempt and expect changes unless you also file to modify custody

If the other parent continues to refuse to follow the court order, filing contempt will serve a limited purpose unless you also want to file to modify custody and make changes to the existing order.


DO NOT relocate out of state unless you have permission from the court or the other parent

If you want to relocate out of the state, you will need permission from the other parent or you will need to get the court to approve the move. If you move without either, the parent remaining in the state can file for a court order to have the court force you to return the children to the state until custody is decided. File a Petition for Relocation if you intend to move and be prepared to wait, sometimes a year or more before a court decides your case.


DO try to resolve things out of court

Custody is something that the parents should decide. You should make every effort to come up with a schedule for your child yourselves rather than have a complete stranger decide custody for you. You will never get the same attention to detail in a court hearing as you can craft in your own custody agreement.

Additional Resources

Pennsylvania Custody Lawyer

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