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BEWARE: Tips to Avoid Mistakes in a Custody Battle

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Categorized as Child Custody, Child Custody & Visitation

Going through a divorce is difficult enough, but when you and your spouse are constantly arguing about the minor children, it makes the process twice as difficult and emotionally draining. Parenting time and decision-making for minor children (all of which used to be referred to as “custody” in Illinois) are frequently a source of emotional conflict between divorcing spouses, and constant fighting over the children can have an impact on the health and mental state of the children themselves if they witness it. Here are some top mistakes to avoid when there is an ongoing custody battle over parenting time and decision-making for minor children to avoid any negative effects on the children and to protect yourself in the legal process of the divorce:

Tips to Follow in a Child Custody Battle

When you’re involved in a child custody battle or parenting time case, keep the following tips in mind for the benefit of everyone, especially your children:

    1. Don’t say anything negative about the other parent.

      This includes phone conversations, text messages, social media, emails, and speaking out loud in front of children. Also, if a guardian ad litem has been appointed in your case, do not berate or disparage the other parent in your interactions with them. All of these methods of communication can be used against you in court, and saying negative things about the other parent can demonstrate to the court that a co-parenting relationship simply will not work, which could result in the other parent receiving more parenting time or making decisions for the children over you. Speaking ill of the other parent in front of the children is also frowned upon by the Court and may have a negative impact on the parenting time and decision-making responsibilities you may be awarded in the case.

    2. Don’t deny the children’s contact, phone contact, or parenting time with the other parent.

      Unless you have reason to believe your spouse is endangering your children’s lives, there is no reason to try to prevent the other parent from talking to or seeing the minor children. If there is a court order requiring specific parenting time and phone call times, you must always follow the court order and allow the children to have contact with the other parent. Even if no court order is in place, you should allow the children to have contact and parenting time with the other parent. Following a court order and allowing the other parent to see the children shows that you are willing to co-parent with your spouse and ensure that they have a good relationship with the children as well.

    3. Continue to communicate with the other parent.

      By ceasing all communication with the other parent, you are demonstrating that you are unwilling or unable to collaborate with the other parent in co-parenting the children, which will not bode well with the court if you are requesting significant parenting time and participation in decision-making for the children. If you stop communicating with the other parent, the court may conclude that you will be unable to communicate in the future and, as a result, should not be given the same level of responsibility as the other parent. Even if you disagree with the other parent on some points, don’t stop communicating. When there is a disagreement about the minor children, you should always be constructive and try to reach a compromise with the other parent. It is never a good idea to cut off all communication with the other parent.

    4. Don’t let your feelings get the best of you.

      Divorce with minor children is always difficult, but you must remember to be more logical and reasonable than emotional. Yes, because the other parent is also awarded parenting time, you may not be able to see the children every day or whenever you want, but this cannot be allowed to drive the entire case when it comes to parenting time and decision-making for the children. Your emotions can cause you to do things like gossip about the other parent, yell at the other parent, and try to turn the children against the other parent, but these actions will only make things worse for you, not the other parent. Talking to a mental health professional can help you process your feelings about the divorce and the perceived loss of time with your children. To get through any conflict with your spouse over the children, you must master your emotions. While a child custody case is underway, the court will be making temporary orders. It is very important to comply with all temporary court orders that are entered during the pendency of your case.  It is very important that a court’s order is adhered to, which shows your commitment to the procedure and respect for the court.

Download our Child Custody Guide to learn more

  1. Do not make your children choose who they want to live with or spend time with.

    Do not talk to the children about making choices about who they want to live with or be with.  Your children must believe that their parents have a united front—that they are on the same page with the same goal of making sure they are taken care of.  If the children ask you questions or complain about the other parent, it is best to tell them that they are lucky to be loved by two parents who are working very hard together to make sure they are taken care of and that you are working things out and love them very much.

  2. Provide a safe and loving environment for your child.

    Continue to be a great parent by creating a safe and loving environment for your child when they are with you. You also want to make sure your child feels comfortable talking to you about the other parent.  If your child feels you would resent hearing about the other parent, they will not talk to you.  Make sure your child knows that you support, encourage, and will facilitate their relationship with the other parent even if you are going through a custody battle.

Anderson Boback & Marshall has a team of highly experienced child custody lawyers who can handle highly contested child-related issues such as parenting time and child decision-making. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can assist you with parenting-related issues.

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