LET NEGATIVE EMOTIONS TOWARDS THE OTHER PARENT CLOUD YOUR JUDGEMENT
One of the biggest mistakes made by individuals involved in custody matters is to put their personal animosity towards the other parent above the best interests of their child. Quite frankly, the Court cares very little about the reasons that caused the parents to separate. However, the court absolutely cares about whether the parents are putting the Children's best interests first.
WITHOLD ALL VISITATION FROM THE OTHER PARENT WITHOUT A PROPER REASON TO DO SO
There are certainly circumstances that warrant preventing a parent from having unsupervised visitation with a child prior to the issuance of a court order. However, these circumstances are limited to instances in which there are real and immediate threats to the child such as physical abuse and unsanitary living conditions. Otherwise, the Courts do not look favorably upon the parent that excludes the other completely from their child's life.
MOVE OUT OF THE CHILDREN'S SCHOOL DISTRICT WITHOUT A GOOD REASON
Many judges are extremely hesitant to move children out of their existing school district. They do not believe the children's best interests are served by removing them from a familiar environment and from their friends. Certainly, there are practical matters that may force you to move out of the school district. However, you are putting yourself at an immediate disadvantage by doing so.
REFUSE TO COOPERATE WITH THE OTHER PARENT
Custody can become a very nasty and a hate-filled process. However, it is important that you cooperate with the other parent regarding your children's well being. You should discuss important school events, make sure you send your child to the other parent with clothes and toys, and discuss your children's extracurricular activities. Not only does the Court get extremely frustrated with uncooperative parents but the Children also suffer.
FALL TO THE LEVEL OF THE OTHER PARENT
Oftentimes a parent will be very good about being cooperative with the other parent regarding their children's interests in the beginning. However, once the other parent starts becoming difficult they fall down to there level and become just as petty. No one benefits from taking this approach, especially you the parent. The better course of action is to maintain the high road and be the bigger person. This will pay dividends in many ways. Among these dividends is the fact that you will allow your attorney to paint you in a positive light and the other parent as the problem. By falling down to the level of the other parent you pass up this valuable opportunity.
TALK BADLY ABOUT THE OTHER PARENT IN FRONT OF THE CHILDREN
By now you are probably starting to notice a general theme to these paragraphs and that theme is that the Courts greatly prefer both parents to be involved in the children's lives and not disparage the other. As such, it is very important that no matter how much you cannot stand the other parent, you do not fight with them in front of the children.
There are many important factors to consider when initially dealing with a custody dispute. Things such as parents work schedule, daycare, and ability to get the children to and from events often become very important issues. You should do your diligence in doing everything possible to arrange your work schedule around your children's needs, having alternate transportation plans available, and researching potential daycare centers. Judge's love nothing more than seeing a parent that is proactively looking for ways to improve the children's life.
FAIL TO TAKE NOTES
It is important to keep a journal of important events with regard to the way your current custody arrangement is working. For example, if the other parent is not complying with your agreement, making disparaging remarks to the children, or engaging in other conduct you believe to be inappropriate write it down in detail in your journal. Also, do not forget that custody is not all about tearing down the other side. It is also important that you write down the positive things that you have done in detail in your journal. Custody battles can often take a long time to reach a resolution and the journal will allow you to point to specific conduct on specific dates. This will give your testimony far greater weight.
GO AGAINST YOUR COURT ORDER
There is no quicker way to get yourself in a worse custody position than directly disobeying a judicial order. Do not forget that hearings for contempt of the custody order are usually held before the judge that issued it. By disobeying the Court's order, you are directly mocking their judgment and expertise.
FAIL TO HIRE AN ATTORNEY
You are permitted to represent yourself in a custody battle. However, I highly advise against it. It is important that you perform thorough research and find the attorney that is best for you. I think we can all agree that at some point in time we saw a story on the news about a crime that was committed where it appears blatantly obvious that the person guilty, but the jury finds them not guilty anyway. More often then not this is because they got the right attorney. Custody is no different. Having the right attorney may very well result in you spending more time with your child. In addition, to make sure that you have an attorney that knows how to get results, it is equally important that you retain an attorney that you can communicate and trust. You will be relying heavily upon your attorney's advice to make very important decisions and must feel comfortable in following their advice.