When it comes to child custody disputes, taking the “high road” can become can be challenging. Staying emotionally centered is imperative. Take a deep breath and think about what is best for your child(ren.) Studies have shown that it is healthiest for kids to spend time with both parents. Since family courts prioritize the wellbeing of the child, that is also the most likely way the California Family Law Court is going to rule.
We never hesitate to remind our clients about the 9 Rules of Engagements for a Divorce. The same rules apply for child custody disputes. How much time, energy, and financial resources are you willing to sacrifice into trying to limit your divorcing spouse’s time with the kids, knowing darn well that strategy will not only be unsuccessful but could very well work against you?
Let’s review those ground rules…
While reading these child custody rules of engagement, if a scenario particular to yours is not covered, consider how your decision or indecision will look to the family court judge. In sum, do things that demonstrate your composure, the best interest of the child at our the forefront of your mind, and your ability to be diplomatic. Displaying a lack of composure will only feed into any unfavorable narratives the opposing spouse/counsel could very well be trying to create about you.
Be polite and cordial at all times. Sure, you might feel anger and other negative feelings toward your spouse. And yes, your divorcing spouse could be trying to bait you into becoming uncomposed but don’t fall for it. Do your best to refrain from arguments. Be more kind than is expected. Uttering words or displaying actions that are less than cordial will have you gambling against achieving the best possible settlement and outcome for you and your children. This goes for text and social media posting and messages as well.
If children are involved do everything afforded to you to make sure their quality of life is optimal— even if your spouse is being rude to you or trying to push your buttons. All family court decisions are centered on the well being of the children. Don’t cancel their babysitter, internet subscription, medication, or any things of that quality of life sort. Not only would you come off as a jerk to a family law judge, but it is imperative you do everything necessary to show you are prioritizing the mental, physical, and emotional well-being of the child(ren) in everything you do.
Be cordial remember? Keep conversations short and practical. Don’t get lost in small talk. If you must decide on dropping off the kids or picking up personal items, make the arrangements, keep it polite and to the point. Do not ask any prying questions, whether positive or negative, about someone they might be dating or any matter that is not relevant to the immediate task and exchange at hand.
Remember, everyone can be used as a witness against you. It is a strong probability that you’ve become close to your divorcing spouse’s friends and family. Even if you trust them it best not to not talk with them about anything even remotely related to the divorce or your past relationship with your spouse. You should be mentally vigilant, keeping in mind the possibility that they may engage you in conversation outside of their normal frequency, topic, and style to fish for information. Be especially careful on text, social media platforms, posts, and messaging. Conversation screenshots from “friends” and anonymous profiles are are now commonplace in child custody proceedings.
Not only will cancelling your spouse’s car insurance, health plans, or similar type subscriptions present you as a spiteful person to the judge, it will also make you liable. If you cancel your spouse’s car insurance and they get into an accident, guess whose pocket that’s coming out of? Consult with your highly experienced divorce lawyer to coordinate the best time to disengage such critical health and financial subscriptions.
Showing up unannounced can surprise anyone. Consider the climate of a pending divorce and that surprise visit, regardless of intention, can be perceived in a negative way. Don’t gamble with an unannounced visit to your spouse’s home, work, or other space you know they frequent. In most cases this type of unannounced visit will be used to support any unfavorable narrative the opposing counsel may be trying to form about you.
This overlaps with the rules about being cordial and only partaking in actions and words that will win you favor in the eyes of the court. Not destroying your spouse’s property and refraining from escalating drama during the divorce process should be common sense but it merits being restated and emphasized. Treat their property with extra care and make effort to return their property when and where it is appropriate and of course with consensual communication beforehand.
Keeping notes will give you the advantage when it comes to hashing out the details of your divorce or custody issue. They will come in valuable should your family law scenario become contentious. Assuming you have a competent divorce or family law attorney, noting what your divorcing spouse is saying and doing can give your attorney the insights he/she needs to create the best strategy possible to achieve the best outcome for you. Winning full child custody and revealing undocumented income sources for Spousal or Child support cases are just a couple examples of what can be accomplished by take good notes of your interactions.
Divorce ranks up there as one of the most challenging moments in a person’s life. You are tasked with having to transition into a new stage of your life while facing the intense thoughts and emotions that usually comes with it. Even if you are not a spiritual or religious person, having a reliable person to hear you out and help keep you emotionally and emotionally centered is to the benefit of your divorce case and your future. Be sure to take care of yourself and stay in communication with your priest, rabbi, therapist, or good friend during this sensitive time.
California puts the best interest of the child first, always. Make sincere efforts to be amicable and cordial with your spouse to work out reasonable solutions. Sincerely think with your heart about whether you are making genuine legal decisions that center your children and will benefit their present and future economic, physical,and psychological well being.
Do you work an excessive amount of hours during your work week? 60-70 hours? Even if you are successful in winning majority time share with your children, how are you going to manage that while you’re away at work? Who’s going to babysit, drive, or otherwise supervise the children?
Do you really have the time and energy resources available to parent or are you just being spiteful by contesting your spouses request for custody? Don’t forget that your child’s emotional, mental, and physical well being is the priority consideration here. An honest look in the mirror is critical. Nobody is perfect and part of good parenting is acknowledging your shortcomings. If you are prioritizing your ego, the judge will surely see this and rule against a decision that would be favorable to you.
If you are acting defensive toward your spouses efforts for shared child custody, self reflect on your criticisms about your divorcing spouse’s parenting skills and be honest about whether their parenting skills are truly that negative. Are you genuinely concerned about the well being of your kids or are you letting your ego get the best of you ?
If you are involved in a child custody dispute make sure you obtain the best legal representation available.
Call divorce attorney Charles M. Green today.