Part of divorce as a parent is dealing with custody arrangements. You may have a difficult time coming to agreeable terms with your former spouse. When this happens, you have to go before the judge to work out your differences. During this time, you should not do anything that can impact the judge's decision. If a judge has a reason to question your fitness as a parent, you may not like the outcome of his or her decision. Here are some things you should avoid so you get the best outcome possible:
Getting Into Legal Trouble
If you get into any sort of legal trouble, it gives the judge reason to not award you the custody arrangement you want. When you get arrested, particularly for any type of violent or abusive behavior, your former spouse can argue that you are not able to effectively parent your children or that you are too dangerous for your children to be around. If your arrest involves the use of drugs, you may also have issues getting custody of your children, at least without any form of supervision involved.
Disregarding Court Orders
While your custody arrangements are being worked out, a judge may issue temporary court orders while you wait for a final decision on custody. This is common when your divorce is not yet final. A judge can use temporary orders to help you manage custody of your children while your divorce is pending. Temporary orders may include who your children live with, which of you picks up your children and where, and the like. If you do not follow the temporary orders, the judge can use your defiance against you when finalizing your divorce decree. For example, if you do not show up to pick up your children at the agreed-upon time, your former spouse can take that to court and state that you are unwilling to follow your divorce decree. The judge may decide that you are not trustworthy or that you do not care enough to work out your schedule to take care of your kids. Even if that is not the case, any disregard for orders looks bad for your case.
Disparaging Your Former Spouse
One major mistake many divorcing individuals make is disparaging his or her former spouse during the divorce process. Although this is a highly emotional time and you may have some bad blood with your former spouse, you should avoid saying anything bad about him or her in public or in front of your children. If this information gets back to your former spouse, he or she can argue that you are creating problems and impacting his or her relationship with your children or disparaging them in public.
Contact a custody attorney for more information.