Cases involving minor children can be very difficult, time consuming and expensive. The last thing you want to do is make things harder on yourself. For many parents, the (custody) schedule and other concerns involving the children is the most important part of the case. There are certain mistakes that can be prevented.
Here are the top 3 mistakes we frequently encounter in family law cases involving minor children, and what you can do to avoid them:
1. Not allowing the other parent to see the child:
Not allowing the other parent to see their child is a big mistake. Courts want parents to facilitate an ongoing loving relationship between the child and the other parent. Ideally, children need two parents. Courts recognize this.
Withholding the child from one parent typically happens in paternity cases. Paternity cases involve parents who have a minor child and were never married. Even if the father is on the birth certificate, it does not mean that he is entitled to certain rights when it comes to the child.
In fact, the father is not entitled to a time-sharing schedule with the other parent unless he files a paternity action. Issues typically arise when the parents separate and one parent enters a new relationship. For example, let’s say a mom has a child with dad. Mom and dad were never married, and break up. Dad later enters a new relationship. When mom finds out, and she does not want the child to contact their father anymore. The father will then have a hard time seeing the child, unless he files a paternity action and request time-sharing.
There are different reasons a parent may give for withholding the child from the other parent. Reasons could be triggered by personal emotions like anger and jealousy. If it’s not in the best interest of the child, then it’s not a good reason.
However, issues like domestic violence by one parent (physical or verbal) to the child and/or the other parent in front of the child is a good reason to withhold the visitation. Remember, the Court’s decision is governed by the best interest of the child.
2. Badmouthing the other parent in front of their child:
This is very common and also very easy to avoid. Badmouthing the other parent in front of a child is a huge mistake and causes much harm to the child. We should always remember that kids see their parents as a superhero. Kids look up to their parents. Talking bad about the other parent in front of the child normalizes this behavior to the child. This sets an example for the child, who may end up disrespecting not only their own parents but also elders. A child is a reflection of their parents so don’t teach them to disrespect other people.
More so, badmouthing one parent can also be used against you in Court. If you believe the other parent is badmouthing you to your child, you can bring it up in Court. You can also request the Court to limit communication between the parents to a co-parenting app, such as My Family Wizzard or Talking Parents. These apps store all communications between the parents, and is accessible to the Courts for their review. From experience, when one parent badmouths the other parent in front of the child, they will also badmouth that parent on these apps.
3. Not being involved in the minor child’s life:
This is easily preventable. If you are fighting for custody/time with your kids, then you should heavily be involved in their lives. This includes knowing the names of the child’s best friends, teachers, and doctors. Parents should know the child’s likes/dislikes, passions and interests.
Of course, there are exceptions. For example, there are cases were a parent is being denied the right to continue actively participating in the life of a child (see reason number 1). If this is your case, the quicker you initiate an action the better.
Always remember that the best interests on the minor children is the number one standard courts use when making decisions related to timesharing and other children issues. As it should be. Cases concerning minor children can be the most difficult. But that does not give parents a reason to act contrary to the child’s best interest.
The legal process can get difficult, which is why we always recommend that you seek the assistance of counsel; or at least have a consultation. Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today to review the issues of your case, the legal options you may have, and certain rights that pertain to your unique situation.
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