Many parents fighting for child custody will do anything to win their court cases. However, some tactics can do more harm than good and result in those parents significantly damaging or even losing their custody bid. If you don't want to unintentionally tank your custody case, avoid doing these three things.
Withholding Child Support
People in your social circle may advise you to stop paying child support as a way of gaining leverage over the other parent. Their reasoning is that you can use the money as a bargaining chip when negotiating custody and visitation issues. For instance, you withhold the money until the other parent agrees to let you get more visitation time.
In very rare and unusual cases, this tactic might work. Much more likely, though, using child support payments in this manner will blow up in your face. Not only will it appear as if you're coercing the co-parent into agreeing to your terms—which can taint the court's opinion of your parental fitness—but child support is a court order and you can get into a lot of legal trouble for violating it. Additionally, the court has a number of tools it can use to force you to make the payments anyway, such as wage garnishment.
It's important to comply with any child support order instituted by the court. Be certain to use a trackable method, such as a check or bank transfer, so you can prove you're making the payments in case there's a dispute. Staying on top of your child support will keep you out of jail and show the court you're a responsible adult, which can only help your support case.
Interfering With the Child/Parent Relationship
Another tactic some people employ to win custody cases is to diminish the relationship between the kids and co-parents. This can take many forms including preventing the co-parent from spending time with the children, bad-mouthing the other parent, or manipulating the kids into thinking the other parent doesn't want them.
If successful, the perpetrator could get the court to think the co-parent is unfit or influence the child into telling the court they prefer one parent over the other. What usually happens, though, is the perpetrator makes themselves look bad in front of the court, who will factor in the parent's behavior when deciding custody issues. In some cases, the perpetrator will face legal consequences if their actions violate a court order, such as the terms of a temporary visitation decree.
There may be perfectly valid reasons for preventing a child from being with a parent, such as concerns over abuse or neglect. However, the issue must be handled using the appropriate legal process; otherwise, you risk hurting your custody case by making the judge think you're acting out of vindictiveness.
Even if you think your ex is the worst person on the face of the Earth, it's important to at least be as neutral as possible when talking about them to or around your kids. Address any parenting concerns directly with your ex and let your attorney know as soon as possible if your ex is behaving in a way that puts the kids in jeopardy, so they can help you take legal steps to limit your ex's access to them.
Venting on Social Media
Litigating a child custody case can be stressful, especially if the co-parent is being uncooperative. It may be tempting to air your grievances on Twitter or Facebook, but that can only complicate matters. Not only can it make you look bad to the court, but you may inadvertently provide your ex with ammunition to use against you.
For instance, you may confess to making up an excuse so the kids couldn't visit the co-parent one weekend. Your ex could use this to show you're not complying with a visitation order, which could result in a bad outcome for you in court.
Even if you have your social media accounts locked up behind a wall of privacy controls, it's best to keep your opinions of your ex off the internet until your case has been resolved.
For help with your child custody case, contact a local child custody lawyer.