All things being equal, both parents have joint custody rights to their children. Custody laws are also supposed to be gender neutral, meaning that Dad has as much of a right to raise the kids as Mom. But judges are human, and some may subscribe to the old preconception that younger children, in particular, are better off being raised by their mother. Others may assume that if Mom is not acting as a primary caretaker, she’s not suited to remain in that role. And still, others will assume you’re a questionable parent if you make other mistakes, five of which we cover below.
Losing Your Cool with Your Spouse
Yelling implies aggression and loss of control, which is especially detrimental for men, as the presumption still exists that men are more dominating and formidable than women. If you are a dad seeking custody and make the mistake of yelling at your wife, she could claim to be afraid of you, an allegation that the courts take seriously whether it is well-founded or not. No matter how angry you feel, resist the urge to press your point by yelling.
Not Being Involved in Your Child’s Care
Parents who are not actively involved in their children’s daily lives tend to be poor prospects in a custody case. If you are not taking the time to feed, bathe, read to, or do homework with your child, you’re at a disadvantage in court because there is no demonstrated involvement in your child’s life.
Criticizing Your Spouse to Friends and Family
You need to assume that any comments you publicly make about your spouse are going to get back to him or her, so avoid making critical remarks to family, friends, and especially the children. The latter can be construed as parental alienation, which is when one parent tries to damage a child’s relationship with the other and can get you in trouble. You want to show the judge that your primary goal is the best interests of your child, which may include a close relationship with a person you have negative feelings about.
Move In With a New Partner
It’s normal to want to move on and put a broken relationship behind you, but children tend to struggle for awhile with the reality that their parents are no longer together. When they see one or both parents start dating other people, the impact can be significant. For this reason, courts frown on such behavior among younger children in particular while a divorce is in progress. Wait until it’s finalized before changing your living arrangements, and then transition the kids into your new relationship gently.
Take The Children On A ‘Surprise Trip’
By ‘surprise trip’, we mean that you take the kids out of the area without notifying their other parent beforehand. Your intentions may be completely honorable, but such an expedition can be regarded as kidnapping and make you the subject of an emergency order that takes away further parenting time.
Custody tends to go to parents who put their children’s interests ahead of their own. When you demonstrate this ability, you’ll avoid most of the mistakes that sabotage your custody case.
When you are seeking primary custody of your children in a New York divorce, it is critical that you obtain the advice of an experienced family law team. At Levoritz Law Firm, Yonatan Levoritz, Karolina Krasnyanskaya, Evgen Tereshchenkov, and Miechia Gulley will advocate for you at the most hotly contested custody trials and help you steer clear of mistakes that could hurt your chances. For more information or to schedule a confidential consultation, contact us today.