Everyone knows that divorce is never easy, and when children are involved, the difficulties multiply. If you anticipate a battle over the custody of your child or children, either during or after your divorce, the right Fresno family law attorney can help.

The stress of a divorce or the stress caused by a subsequent child custody dispute may cause someone to act or react in ways that negatively affect that person’s chances of being awarded custody. Every step you take during a divorce or a custody contest will be closely watched.

Every parent who is fighting for custody of a child should understand that the court will examine your behavior closely throughout the proceeding, and you should behave accordingly. What behaviors must be avoided if you hope to win the custody of your child or children?

If you’ll continue reading, you will learn the most common mistakes that parents make during custody disputes, how you can avoid those mistakes, and how a Fresno child custody attorney will guide, advise, and effectively represent you in a child custody proceeding.

What Six Mistakes Must Be Avoided?

Whether you’re fighting for child support payments, the physical custody of your children, or the right to visit your children, the court will scrutinize your behavior throughout the legal process.

Here are six behaviors that you must avoid if you are seeking custody of your child or children:

  1. Raising your voice to your spouse or children: When a divorce or a custody dispute is pending, speak as if everything you say is being recorded or as if the judge is standing next to you. Raising your voice can be perceived by others as abuse or intimidation.
  2. Alienation of affection: It’s best if a child has stable relationships with both parents. If one parent constantly criticizes the other, children may feel pressured to “choose” one parent over the other. Judges look for alienation of affection, and they do not tolerate it.
  3. Any type of physical contact: Making physical contact with another person in a harmful or offensive manner is a crime. In California, assault is any act that may bring injury or unwanted contact to someone else, and battery is the actual infliction of force or violence.
  4. Cohabiting with a new partner: Judges do not appreciate a parent who introduces a child to a new, intimate partner – or moves in with that partner – before a divorce is final. Until that time, it is best if you don’t introduce your child or children to a new partner.
  5. Not paying court-ordered child support: Ignoring an order to pay child support may be considered contempt of court. Failure to pay child support may be perceived as disrespect for the court and as having a too-casual attitude toward your children’s well-being.
  6. Taking the kids without telling the other parent: Most divorced parents agree upon vacation times so that both may spend quality time with the kids. But if you take the kids without telling your ex, it may look like you’re trying to kidnap and disappear with them.

What Other Mistakes Can Parents Make When Seeking Custody?

The above list is not exhaustive, but it includes the most common mistakes that parents make during custody disputes. Part of a California child custody attorney’s job is helping parents to avoid these kinds of mistakes.

Parents who are seeking custody of their child or children also need to avoid using illegal drugs, getting arrested, or getting fired from their jobs while the custody case is pending. An arrest for DUI, for example, could entirely derail your efforts to win custody of your child or children.

What May Be a Parent’s Biggest Mistake?

While it is important to avoid all of these mistakes, perhaps the biggest mistake that a parent can make in a child custody proceeding is inflexibility. A parent who can change and compromise to put the child first may be perceived by the judge as an effective parent with good judgment.

If both parents are determined to avoid a contentious custody dispute, and if they are willing to make compromises and work together in the best interests of their child or children, they can probably work out even the most difficult parenting disputes.

If the divorcing parents can agree to their own custody, support, and visitation arrangements, a judge will almost always approve those arrangements, provided that the arrangements serve the child’s best interests.

What If A Child’s Parents Have Never Married?

California parents who have never married have no need for the divorce process, so the courts are not necessarily involved in their parenting disputes. They may reach their own child custody agreements privately or with a family law attorney’s help.

However, if a court finds that the child of unmarried parents is at risk in any way, the court is not bound by any private agreement and may impose its own custody, child support, and/or visitation orders.

If you are a parent who never married your child’s other parent, contact a California family law attorney if you need legal advice – or if you need to take legal action – regarding the custody of your child.

Can Child Custody Orders Be Changed?

No child custody arrangement or court order should be considered permanent. As circumstances change in the lives of parents and children, court orders regarding custody, child support, and visitations may need to be modified to reflect those changes.

Unemployment, a sudden illness or injury, a relocation, or the birth of a new child with another partner may require a modification of the court’s orders, and the court must approve any changes to court orders. A Fresno family law attorney can help parents who need court orders modified.

What Is Required to Prevail in a Custody Battle?

This can’t be stressed strongly enough: Prevailing in a custody dispute or a modification hearing requires a parent to put the best interests of the child first. If both parents can do this from the start, most disputes can be avoided, and other disagreements may be compromised or negotiated.

If you are a parent who is divorcing in or near the greater Fresno area, or if a custody dispute emerges after your divorce, the right California child custody lawyer can help. Make the call and take advantage of that lawyer’s advice from the very beginning of the legal process.