Cases where parents are arguing over custody (now referred to in Illinois as "parental responsibilities") are difficult on many levels - emotional, mental, physical, spiritual, and financial. The goal for me, as a family law attorney, is always to help my clients achieve a resolution in their custody case that makes them and their children happier and more secure. In order to help keep their cases strong, I advise my clients to avoid certain "bad behavior." Below are five things your should avoid doing if you are in the middle of a custody dispute.
1. Talking bad about the other parent on social media.
As tempting as it may be to rant about your ex on Facebook, don’t do it. Facebook posts are becoming more and more common pieces of evidence in family law court. One post might not destroy your entire case, but it could be considered by a judge when determining several factors, especially your willingness to foster a relationship between your child and the other parent.
2. Texting while angry.
I have seen countless examples of heated text message arguments, and many of them have made their way into the court record. It’s easy to say something regretful when you are angry. Although it cannot always be avoided, do your absolute best not to text the other party while you are angry. If it’s not an emergency, it’s ok to wait to respond until you cool down.
3. Cutting the other parent off.
If you have your child or children in your care, do not make attempts to cut the other parent off from contacting them. This is not an effective way of gaining custody, and it will reflect poorly on you. It’s important to foster the relationship that your child or children have with the other parent, and the court will consider this factor when making a final decision in your parenting case.
4. Withholding information from your lawyer.
It’s best to tell your lawyer the truth about your case, even if it does not reflect you in the best light. Your lawyer can build a strategy, but it could all fall apart if your lawyer is not prepared with full knowledge of your circumstances. If you lie or omit something, the truth may come out, and your lie or omission about it will make the situation worse!
5. Signing anything without legal advice.
You should always speak to a lawyer before signing anything with respect to the care or support of your children! Make sure you understand all of your rights and responsibilities that are contained in any document you sign. Often, once you agree to something in writing, this cannot be easily undone. Maybe you want to save money by not hiring a lawyer, but this mistake could turn out to be more complicated and expensive than just going to see a lawyer in the first place.