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Avoiding common mistakes in your child custody case

A child custody case is among the most emotional and difficult to manage in all of Texas family law. During one of these cases, you can expect to encounter challenges on legal, emotional, and relational levels. Trying to accomplish everything you would like to for your children presents a difficult terrain for you to work through. Fortunately, there are ways for you to accomplish goals throughout your case.

One of those ways is to work with an experienced attorney with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys have served parents just like you who are going through challenging child custody circumstances. We attempt to guide our clients to accomplish their goals. We pledge to always put the interests of our clients before our own.

In today’s blog post, we are going to discuss some of the more common mistakes that parents make in child custody cases. To better illustrate the challenges, we are talking about considering the following hypothetical situation. Does it sound like something you and your family are going through? If so, please reach out to the Law Office of Bryan Fagan for a free-of-charge consultation.

Consider the following hypothetical situation

You and your husband are going through a divorce that has been a long time coming. Filing a divorce was not something you ever thought you would have to do. However, because of the difficulties encountered in your marriage over the past several months, you believe it is in everyone’s best interests. As a result, you filed for divorce and are now working towards a resolution of your case.

One of the more challenging parts of a divorce involving children is that your kids are not the only relevant topic in the case. In addition to child custody matters, you and your spouse also must navigate waters involving property division. Neglecting one area of your case to focus all your time on the other is not a good decision. You and your spouse should pay close attention to both sides of your case to work out an agreement that is acceptable to all parties.

Unfortunately, your day-to-day schedule has not allowed for you to pay as much attention to your case as you would like. As a result, you are already suffering from the lack of legal representation. Coming into the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, you sit down with one of our attorneys to discuss your issues. After speaking with one of our lawyers he shares with you the biggest concerns he has for your case. Here is what they are.

Failure to prioritize the best interests of your child

Decision-making in a child custody case is guided by the best interest of your child. The best interest of your child relates to making decisions that are well suited for the life of your child. This considers your child’s life both now and in the future. Their emotional, physical, and mental development all matter when it comes to their best interests. It is very complex to consider all these challenges as well as how your family fits into the equation.

Many families fail to consider the best interests of their children. This usually does not occur on purpose. Rather, families simply lose track of their priorities and instead focus their time on less important subjects. In some cases, parents will confuse their wants and needs with the best interests of their children. It can be a challenge in and of itself to understand that your best interests are not necessarily the same as your child’s.

Consider that your child is likely served best by having a continuous relationship with both of his parents. This may be something that you are not in favor of now. You and your co-parent may want different things when it comes to raising your children. However, so long as the two of you can set aside your differences then your child will be in good hands. However, our attorney notes that it seems you and your co-parent have not been doing this effectively so far in your case.

Getting caught up in petty fighting

One of the most common reasons why parents struggle in Texas child custody cases is because they get bogged down in the petty squabbles that tend to arise in these cases. In sharing your circumstances with one of our attorneys, you point out numerous times how both you and your co-parent have initiated fights with the other person for reasons that are less than important. Instead of taking time to learn about the other person in the best interest of your child fighting is an easier outlet for your emotions.

As a result, you and your spouse lost valuable time that could have been spent negotiating the case with one another. Instead, you fought tooth and nail over unimportant subjects that have been since forgotten. This is a recipe for a long and unproductive divorce. Rather than spending your time fighting over small matters, focus your attention on your child’s best interests.

Working with an experienced family law attorney allows you to keep your eye on the prize. Continually losing focus over the important subjects in your case is not difficult to do. However, when you have an attorney by your side it is much more likely that you will be able to focus your attention on important subjects that will matter long into the future. Instead of focusing on the short term think about the long term and how you can positively impact the life of your child. This helps you gain a competitive edge during the divorce case.

One of the most striking differences between life before a family law case and life during a family law case is needing to follow court orders. Admittedly, this takes practice to get used to. Many people struggle with adhering to these court orders for various reasons. However, the court orders are designed to maximize your and your child’s experience during a child custody case. Even if you do not agree with every order they need to be followed. Failing to do so results in youth suffering from a range of consequences.

In discussing your case with our attorney, it becomes clear that neither you nor your spouse have cared to follow the court orders with an eye for detail. For example, you forgot to unlock the door to your home to allow your spouse to retrieve his belongings last weekend. This is despite a court order mandating that you do so. Your spouse was not able to retrieve his work computer or clothes that he needed for the following week. He then complained to his attorney. What resulted was you had to speak to your attorney at length about this event. 

At the same time, your husband has not followed your court orders closely at all when it comes to taking off and picking up your children. Following court-ordered visitation schedules takes practice. The challenges associated with orders are made worse when a parent does not take the orders seriously. Our attorney recommends that you and your husband take more seriously these court orders. Learning them and keeping a copy at your home is a great idea.

Not communicating well with your co-parent

There is an irony involved in a child custody case related to communication. That irony is rooted in not wanting to communicate with your co-parent. This is probably the last person that you want to talk to on earth. You have gone through a lot with this person and are likely frustrated and angry at him. Many of his bad decisions have likely led to you all going through significant problems in your relationship. Your divorce may be due to the many challenges you have experienced in daily communication.

On the other hand, learning how to communicate with your co-parent is incredibly important. This is all the truer now that the two of you live in separate households. If you thought that it was a challenge to communicate with him while you lived in the same household, try doing so now when you are living separately. This needs to be a focus of yours or you will not improve at it. Being intentional and actively working on this as a skill matters a great deal in a child custody case.

Neglect proper documentation of the conversation 

It is completely normal and advisable to talk to your co-parent throughout a family law case. Many times, families begin to run into issues when you defer to your attorneys for all conversations. However, meaningful discussion between parents typically accomplishes a great deal more in a child custody case. Certainly, communication between parents is more efficient than communication through attorneys. In some situations, it is necessary to use an attorney for communication. However, in many more situations, it is advisable to attempt to communicate directly with your spouse.

In communicating with your co-parent, it is advisable to do so while documenting your conversations to the greatest extent possible. This does not mean that you must document every single statement made to him or her. However, when communicating with a co-parent you should at least write down the date of your conversations and what you discussed. Think of doing so as a journal of sorts. This way you can keep track of conversations if discrepancies occur.

Reasonable people can differ in their recollection of conversations. This happens even in functional marriages. However, that you may encounter these types of issues in a failing marriage during a stressful case is not unexpected. As a result, take the time to go through your records and keep track of what is discussed. You may find that doing so helps you in the long run when it comes to disagreements that occur.

Disparaging the other parent in front of the child 

It is relatively easy to fall into the bad habit of saying negative things about your co-parent in front of your child. There are so many circumstances that arise that result in emotions being tossed about and used against the other person. Sometimes your frustrations mount to the point where you cannot help but say something you regret. Children are also very perceptive and tend to hear more than they let on.

This is a perfect opportunity for bad emotions to be used inappropriately in the family law case. The words that you use about the other person have a profound impact on your children whether you acknowledge that or not. Therefore, it is best to carefully guard your words rather than allow your tongue to slip. When you are careful with what you say you not only set a tone for respectfulness in your case, but you also display good habits for your children. This is the most important part of the entire discussion.

Can disparaging words turn into a family law case? The most common event that occurs once disparaging words are utilized is known as the parental alienation period since this is an important concept in family law, we will discuss it more in detail here.

Parental alienation

Simply put, parental alienation is when one parent uses disparaging words to harm the relationship between their child and the other parent. This most frequently looks like bad-mouthing your co-parent in front of the children. The children are unable to understand fully what you are talking about. Additionally, the innocent parents are unable to defend themselves. This is a potentially disastrous situation that can impact the nature of a family dynamic for years to come.

It is hard to guard against. Even when court orders include prohibitions against alienation innocent parents often suffer. Your children are exposed to alienating behavior even when they are not listening to it. Simply being in and around derogatory language means that your children can pick up on those hateful words. From there, a parent becomes more brazen in the things that they say. Your children can take on the character of those words unknowingly. 

Getting the impression that your child is being exposed to alienating behavior? Address the situation immediately with your co-parent. This is not something that you can afford to wait on. The more your child is exposed to this sort of behavior the worse it tends to be. Your child loses respect for you. Your co-parent lacks respect in this way. Co-parenting is based so much on respect that alienating behavior cannot coexist in this situation. 

The final mistake parents tend to make in child custody cases is not seeking legal representation. Not only is legal representation important but having experienced legal representation matters a great deal more. Having an attorney means that you have someone by your side who understands the law. The law is not something that most of us just know of. You have so many competing interests in your life, after all. An attorney understands the law as a function of their day-to-day work life. 

On top of that, an attorney knows how the law interacts with your specific circumstances. For example, the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan have been fortunate to serve thousands of fellow Texans over the years. During that representation, we have come to know what it takes to take up the interests of our clients. It takes diligence, strength, compassion, and a knowledge of the law that is second to none. That is what it takes to succeed in the law. It is also what you deserve as a client. 

Hiring an attorney is a short-term investment into your long-term future. The future of your family is in your hands during the child custody case. True enough, you are not able to control every aspect of your case. However, there is enough out that you can control that hiring an attorney provides you with a distinct advantage. Don’t just take our word for it. Look through our website for client reviews of our office. We pride ourselves on being the most prepared attorneys in court each day. The trust of our clients is not something we take lightly.

Final thoughts on avoiding mistakes in child custody cases

No matter what you are going through in a child custody case, the Law Office of Bryan Fagan is here for you. When it comes to mistakes in a family law case knowledge is power. Hopefully understanding these mistakes prepares you for your case. Thank you for joining us here on our blog today. 

Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan    

If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free-of-charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. Interested in learning more about how your family is impacted by the material in this blog post? Contact us today.