What Not to Do During a Custody Battle
Arguably, the most contentious family law cases involve child custody and visitation. Parents involved in custody battles are often so consumed with bitterness and anger toward the other parent that they fail to realize the negative effects their litigious actions have on their children.
Under California law, custody agreements must be in the children’s “best interest.” Unfortunately, parties often view the best interest standard as a legal competition on which parent can show how many of the Family Code § 3011 factors are in their favor. This “game-playing” is not in the best interest of the children and only creates animosity and tension between the parties which, contrary to what parents believe, children can recognize and understand.
During a custody battle, parents should be cognizant of their children’s actual best interest by refraining from engaging in the following behavior and attempting to settle custody issues without costly and emotional litigation.
Do Not Let Your Emotions Fuel Your Litigation Strategy
During a custody battle, the parties’ negative emotions toward each other often serve as a catalyst to fuel contentious and aggressive litigation tactics in retaliation toward the other party. Consequently, this behavior affects the children’s mental and emotional well-being more than it negatively affects the other party.
It is important for any parent going through a custody battle to separate their emotions from the relationship break-up. In doing so, parents will find that they are able to focus on the children and find a common ground to resolve any issues that might arise.
Do Not Avoid Co-Parenting Classes
During a custody battle, each parent may think that they are better than the other parent and that they do not need any advice on how to be a parent. This is wishful thinking. This is a new situation for you. Likely, you have never co-parented with someone who you did not have a positive relationship with. Therefore, receiving co-parenting advice will help make parenting easier and less stressful for the children.
Do Not Play the Blame Game
Lastly, during a custody battle, it is easy for parents to blame each other for any mishaps that occur regarding the children. Do not play this blame game. Blaming each other only continues to brew negative emotions between parties that consequently fuel contentious litigation. As a reminder, each parent is equally responsible for the caretaking of the minor children. Further, during this difficult time, it is important for parents to set an example for their children that despite the litigation, both parents will always be there for them and love them unconditionally.
There are times when court-intervention regarding custody issues are necessary. However, in many occasions, you can avoid costly and emotional litigation if you abstain from the above-listed common behaviors. In addition, and perhaps most importantly, if you do end up litigating your custody orders, if you’ve taken the advice above, you will be able to show the court that you are the parent with your children’s best interest at heart.