When it comes to parents involved in child custody cases, everyone wants the most time with the children. In an effort to have the most time, however, some people make big mistakes, ones that hurt their child custody case. Here are a few of the top mistakes I see and my tips to make your custody case go more smoothly and help you gain more parenting time.
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Mistake #1 – WORKING MORE, PARENTING LESS
I know, it is easy for me to say, I’m not paying your mortgage. But people who can put in more time with their child will be awarded more time in the event you end up in a custody dispute. In order to have the most parenting time allocated to you, you have to be the person that spends the most time with the children. That doesn’t mean taking them to the park necessarily, but doing what needs to be done.x
Fathers are always asking me how to gain more time with their children, and I first want to know how much time they are spending working and how much time being a coach for his daughter’s baseball team? Or helping their son with his homework? Parents who put in 60 or more work hours a week want to know how to keep in contact with their children. In all honesty, if you cannot change your work hours somewhat, it will be hard to ask for a lot of parenting time, let alone the majority of it if there is a custody dispute. One of the biggest mistakes a person can make when seeking the majority of the parenting time is working too much.
I have seen working fathers gain the majority of the parenting time however, even though they work. Working parents absolutely have the ability to gain the majority parenting time, but you need to make time for the children. After all, many households have two working parents. The real question is who is doing most of the parenting?
Mistake #2 – DOING THE FUN STUFF AND NOT THE HARD STUFF
It’s easy to be the fun parent. Taking the kids out of ice cream, to the ball game, and pizza for dinner. But when you are at home with the children, who do they go to when they are hurt? When they are sick? If you aren’t the person that they cling to, you likely are not the parent who is doing the most for them. Are you the person that gets out of bed in the middle of the night to change diapers? Or for feedings? These are critical times in child bonding and you have to want to do those jobs if your goal is to have the majority of the parenting time.
If you can work and have flexible hours that will allow you to go to your son’s baseball game, or go on the school field trip, that will help your case. Being there to go to the doctor, see the child’s school teacher, and helping with the homework-these are things that enable you to secure the majority of the parenting time.
Mistake #3 – SPEAKING BADLY ABOUT YOUR EX
Some people are so used to speaking badly about their ex that they do not realize that they are doing it after a while. If you truly want to do what is in your child’s best interest, you have to stop talking badly about the other parent.
First, doesn’t it look bad to your child? This is their parent and regardless of how you feel about that person, this is still the parent of your child. For a man to talk in a derogatory manner about their ex-wife in front of his son, what exactly is that man teaching his young son? It surely isn’t that he should respect women. And when women complain loudly on the phone about the lack of money they have while her ex-husband gets to go on vacation, what exactly is she teaching her child? This is the most disturbing part of a domestic relations practice. Time and time again we see children in the middle of such vicious behavior and although you can understand the anger, it is hard to see these children torn apart by their parents.
Instead of speaking negatively, why don’t you take your son out and pick out a present for his mother? Bake a cake with your son for his mom’s birthday? Draw dad a picture for Father’s Day. There are all kinds of nice things you can do. Sure, you don’t feel like doing it, but your child sees you acting respectful, even when they have to know their parents don’t really like each other.
In a custody case, to be the “custodial parent” you have to facilitate a relationship between the kids and the other parent. If you cannot do that, you will likely lose the majority of the parenting time, even if you do most of the work for the child. It can never hurt your case to be nice to the other parent and expect your child to be respectful as well.
Mistake #4 – MOVING OUT OF THE HOUSE
Unless there is domestic violence in the home, do your best to stay in the home until there is a court order for parenting time. The parent who moves out of the house suffers for it typically.
Temporary orders for parenting time will most likely turn into a permanent order. If you are given every other weekend and everyone seems to be doing well with that schedule, why would the court change it?
If there is no agreement about parenting time, then the courts order mandatory mediation. That takes a couple of months. Still no agreement? Then it is possible that the child will be appointed an attorney. That will take 6 or more months and if no agreement, then a custody evaluator could be appointed. I have a case now where there is no parenting order yet and they are in their fourth year of litigation. Who do you think will be awarded the majority of the parenting time in that scenario? Unless there is something seriously wrong with the parent who has had the child during four years of litigation, then that parent is likely to keep the majority of the time.
You have to stay in the house if you can. Women know this too and will do all sorts of dastardly things to make the men move out, some even resorting to making up abuse to get orders of protection. If you are involved with a person like that, then you do need to get out-custody or not. Since you cannot have the majority of parenting time if you are sitting in jail.