The emotional upheaval of a divorce can be intensified when you have children in the marriage and need to determine custody and visitation. There are many different factors that must be addressed in a custody settlement, including physical custody, legal custody and support. Trying to get through the custody hearings while you're still dealing with the emotions of the divorce can be a struggle, and many parents find themselves making mistakes. Here are a few of the common mistakes you should make every effort to avoid during your divorce and custody hearings.
Missing a Court Date
It is essential that you are present for every court hearing throughout the process. Not only is it a show of respect for the judge and the court procedures, it's legally required that you appear if you want the court to consider your perspective. If you want the judge to view you as a responsible parent in order to consider giving you any form of custody, you need to be punctual and reliable. Your attorney will probably even stress the importance of making it to every hearing on time.
Not Considering Your Child's Best Interest
When you're dealing with a separation and divorce, it's easy to lose sight of what's really important in the midst of your own grief and emotional adjustments. While you're working through disagreements with your spouse, make sure that you remember to focus on what is in your child's best interest. The courts will want to see that you're making a conscious effort to do what's best for the kids, not necessarily what's most convenient for you. This shows that you're responsible and you have your priorities in the right place.
Every decision you make about your kids must be done in their best interest. That means that if you need to limit visitation to every other weekend in order to ensure that he or she makes it to a standing appointment or sports practice, you'll have to do that. It also means arranging your schedule to be present for those activities to support your child. Don't put your kids in the middle of the dispute, either. That means not asking about what your ex is doing or making your kids relay messages. Your kids should never feel as though they have to choose between you and your spouse.
Withholding Visitation or Acting Hostile
Divorce often leaves both parties with hurt feelings, anger and resentment. You'll find that you have a lot of emotions to work through, from grief, to sadness, to anger and confusion. If you're feeling angry toward your spouse, make sure you're not portraying that directly in your communications. Always keep your communications civil, even if they aren't friendly. Don't use threats or hostile behavior to try to gain anything, because that can discredit you in court.
You also need to be sure that you aren't withholding visitation without just cause. There are very few situations where you can legally do this, so if you're considering it, talk with your attorney first. He or she can tell you if it's legal to refuse your spouse his or her legal visitation. Otherwise, you may find yourself back in court for withholding access to the kids.
Divorce is complex, but when you understand what's ahead and how to navigate the process properly, it's easier to get through. Make sure you aren't making these mistakes during your divorce, because they could cost you in the long run. If you are unsure about anything that occurs during the divorce or you're wondering if you can legally do something without repercussions, talk with a divorce attorney who can give you insight into the legal guidelines as well as the best practices that the court may want to see. For more information, contact a local law firm like Hart Law Offices, PC.