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When You Cannot Agree on Child Custody and Parenting Time. . .

on Dec 5, 2017 in Child Custody

These days, many, if not most couples, are able to come to some agreement on child custody and parenting time arrangements.  Even couples who do not begin divorce proceedings on the same page often manage to come to agreement after working with their lawyers.  Sometimes, these agreements are also helped along by collaborative divorce proceedings or mediation.  However, there are times when parents just cannot agree about child custody and parenting time issues.  When all attempts to come to agreement about child custody fail, a judge decides child custody and parenting time.

While a judge considers these important matters, who gets the children, for how long, and under what conditions, there are certain behaviors that should be avoided at all costs.  These behaviors are universally considered “bad” in the context of child custody determinations.

In evaluating child custody and parenting time, above all else, judges must bear in mind the best interests of the child.  The behaviors discussed below will not and do not cast a parent in a good light.

Getting Arrested May Impact Child Custody and Parenting Time

Getting arrested, of course, is rarely considered a good thing.  It merits discussion mostly to alert readers of common types of arrest faced by people during divorce proceedings.  Forewarned is forearmed.

Assaults and Domestic Violence

Even for some couples who have never experienced domestic violence, the stress of divorce can tip couples over the edge. While fighting about sensitive topics such as money and child custody, tempers can flare.  In some cases, all it takes is a neighbor overhearing raised voices for the police to be called.  It is essential spouses be mindful of the potential for emotional escalation and cease discussions when things get heated.  When you have already hired divorce attorneys, leave the debating to the professionals.

Chemical Use

Some people choose to self-medicate during difficult or challenging times in their personal life.  Even if you don’t have custody of your children at the time, you should never use illegal drugs.   Nor should you use drugs prescribed to someone other than you.  Finally, you should be mindful of your alcohol consumption.

Alcohol can negatively impact people in two ways while a child custody dispute is pending.  First, alcohol lowers inhibitions.  This might result in an argument you otherwise wouldn’t have with a soon to be spouse (see above).  It might lead you to loud and boisterous behavior which could separately lead to arrest.  Finally, excessive alcohol use and driving is a dangerous, perhaps deadly combination.

Theft

People between the ages of 35 and 54 shoplift more than any other age group.  Some people report stealing as a way to relieve stress.  Particularly while your child custody case is pending, it is essential you find another way to relive stress.  Courts view theft as an indication of dishonesty.  This does not cast you in the best light while the court evaluates your fitness as a parent.

Venting on Social Media May Impact Child Custody and Parenting Time

Feeling frustrated, angry, and overwhelmed are normal and natural as your divorce case proceeds.  Particularly if your child’s custody and parenting time are in the hands of a stranger, you may feel the need to vent your spleen.  Never, ever do this on social media.  From a sarcastic tweet to a Facebook rant to an Instagram photo of half a dozen empty beer bottles lined up on your kitchen table, you risk your spouse’s attorney asking to supplement the court’s file with exhibits you created.

It is okay to feel frustrated. As is talking about it – just not on social media.  Do not presume some lurker on your account won’t hand your social media entries over to your ex.  Rather, presume just the opposite.  Imagine everything you create offered as an exhibit for the judge.  Comport yourself accordingly.

Refusing to Co-Parent May Impact Child Custody and Parenting Time

There are any number of reasons to be angry with your spouse.  It is normal for hurt feelings to lead to behavior such as refusing to speak to the other parent of your children, intentionally sabotaging their parenting efforts, and actively seeking to distance yourself to the extreme.  However, recall the judge is already aware you were unable to make joint decisions about your child’s custody and parenting schedules.

The court already faces the challenge determining how the child’s best interests are served when two parents can’t agree about the fundamental question of child custody.  One logical consideration may be to grant one parent sole decision-making authority.  Do not demonstrate, by word or by action, your inability to contribute as a partner in decisions regarding your child.

A Word of Caution

Of course, no two divorces are the same.  There may be cases, particularly involving physical or sexual abuse, wherein attempts at co-parenting may be against the advice of professionals.  This blog post provides general information about the topic.  Your particular case may be different.  This is one of many reasons to hire a divorce professional to assist you in navigating the process.

If You Are Considering Divorce

If you are considering divorce, you need an experienced family law advocate on your side.  Child custody questions can be fraught with any number of issues.  At Fait & DiLima, we have more than 50 years of combined experience on family law issues.  Our firm has been offering family law services to the citizens of Maryland, with offices in Rockville, Maryland, and Frederick, Maryland for over 20 years.  We pride ourselves on our hard work and our dedication, while we work with you to help calm the storm.