Child custody is often the most contentious part of a divorce and is difficult from both a legal and an emotional standpoint. What do you do when you’re in the middle of what feels like an emotional war over the people you love most?
An experienced child custody lawyer can help by explaining your legal options and being your cool-headed advocate when things get rough.
At Johnson/Turner Legal, we see many contentious child custody cases. Here are our dos and don’ts to help you navigate this difficult process.
A Minnesota Judge Looks at the Best Interests of the Children
Judges evaluate whether parents are capable of sustaining nurturing relationships with their children. They use evidence presented at trial to make decisions based on what is in the best interests of the child. Ensure that your child custody lawyer has plenty to work with by being active and present in your children’s lives.
DO: Be an active participant in your child’s education, no matter where the child is living. Attend school conferences and stay in contact with your child’s teachers. And make sure to attend extracurricular activities as well, like games or recitals.
Do: Enroll your children in therapy, even if it’s just a few sessions. This will give them a safe space with a therapist qualified to help them acclimate to the divorce.
Don’t: Turn your focus to new romantic relationships; instead, focus on your kids and their needs.You don’t want to giv the impression that you are placing your needs ahead of your child’s.
If your divorce drags on due to contentious financial negotiations, you might decide it’s worth the risk to date.
However, don’t introduce your children to the person you are dating. While you may have emotionally moved on, they might still be coming to terms with their family breaking up. And having multiple people in and out of your child’s life isn’t viewed as appropriate or healthy by a judge.
Your Divorce and Custody Battles Should Remain Private
You should aim to keep the details of your divorce private. In particular, you should not share your feelings about the divorce or your ex with your children.
Don’t: Act like a child yourself. This means no name-calling, belittling your spouse, or fighting and swearing around the children. Any inappropriate behavior can further upset your children. They don’t need to hear about how one parent wronged the other one.
Do: Remember that anything you put in writing can be shown to a judge. This includes emails, text messages, and social media posts.
In this day and age, it’s easy to overshare on social media. But airing your private divorce matters online can make your children uncomfortable if they happen across it. And anything that you post online may be used by your spouse’s child custody lawyer against you.
Don’t: Assume that anything you write will remain private. And if you’re communicating in writing with your child’s other parent, ask yourself this before you hit send: “Do I want to read this out loud in court before a judge?” If the answer is no, don’t send it.
Do: Spend time with your children and be present with them — but don’t make comments about your ex or pry them for information about what your ex is doing or who they may be dating. This places your child in the middle of an adult argument, and they do not belong there.
Don’t: Give in to irrational impulses, like following your ex around, calling them repeatedly, or fighting at custody exchanges. These behaviors may cause a judge to doubt your fitness as a parent or your ability to provide a stable home for your children.
Your Character May Be Judged by Your Behavior
If you’ve consistently gone to church with your children prior to the divorce, feel free to continue taking them. However, do not use a newfound interest in church to limit the weekend time of the other parent. And don’t attempt a newly pious act — a judge will be able to discern if you’re using religion to try to make the other parent look bad.
Don’t: Break the law or do anything illegal. Don’t get arrested — if you can’t keep yourself out of trouble, why would a judge believe you can keep your kids safe?
Don’t: Drink or use drugs, especially around your children, and certainly don’t drive if you have been drinking. Don’t risk even a seemingly small violation, like driving without a license or speeding.
Always assume that anything that you do may be used at a child custody trial by your ex-spouse. Look after your child’s interests first, and ensure that you remain an active and involved good influence on them.
Do You Need a Child Custody Lawyer in Minnesota?
Are you struggling with a child custody case? We can help. Johnson/Turner Legal is a team of professional child custody lawyers who can fight for your interests and rights. Contact us today to book a quick guidance call.