Divorce is never easy, and can become even more complicated when kids are involved. Child custody litigation can be emotionally and financially draining, especially when parents fight back and forth. Many times, things are said and done that can negatively affect family relationships.
To avoid problems during child custody litigation, it is essential to understand the issues that commonly sabotage a parent’s custody case.
At the law firm of Eric C. Cheshire, P.A., we have encountered these 4 offenses that happen more often than others during child custody litigation. If possible, try to avoid them at all costs.
1. Moving in with a Boyfriend or Girlfriend
During a divorce, this is a major offender in child custody litigation. Children have a difficult time dealing with the fact that their parents are separating. It is hard to see parents moving on, and it takes time for children to become comfortable with the idea new people will be entering the picture. Even though the parents are free to date other individuals, judges frown upon parents exposing their children to their new significant others during the divorce process. For the children’s well-being, it is best to keep new boyfriends and girlfriends away until things settle down after the divorce is final.
2. Taking Kids Out of the Area Without Advanced Notification
Even during the process of a divorce, before it is finalized, parents should agree on a visitation/time-sharing schedule. Besides setting dates and times, it is common courtesy to advise the other parent when a vacation or out-of-area trip is planned. If one parent leaves the area with the children, without notifying the other parent, it could be used against them in court, as the parent who left could be portrayed as withholding the children from the other parent. In this situation, the uninformed parent could have grounds to request that visitation be restricted or monetary sanctions imposed against the offending parent.
3. Failing to Pay Child Support
One parent is usually ordered by the Court to pay child support to the other parent. If one parent ignores this ruling, a judge may find the person in contempt, which can result in monetary sanctions or jail time, or both. Each parent has a legal obligation to support their children according to their needs and the parent’s financial abilities. In the state of Florida the financial obligation usually ceases when the child turns eighteen, although in certain cases involving special needs, it may extend beyond this age. Other factors may result in child support terminating prior to the age of maturity. Child support is calculated pursuant to Florida Statute 61.30, which uses a mathematical formula that considers the income of both parents, child care costs, medical insurance and expenses, and the amount of time the child spends with each parent, and which parent pays certain expenses. See other factors in determining child support.
4. Alienating the Other Parent
Divorce can be very stressful and confusing to the children involved; and sometimes, they feel as though they are being torn between two people they love. When living apart, one parent may be in the habit of talking negatively about the other parent. This makes children feel like they must choose sides, which can be emotionally devastating and lead to parent alienation syndrome. The end result of parent alienation can leave children resenting or hating one of their parents, as well as developing emotional problems in the future. When parents invoke emotions of disrespect or even resentment toward the other parent, it can have lasting effects on a child. The child may develop separation anxiety or use the same techniques for dealing with relationships as an adult.
Not all children show the same signs of parental alienation; however, many children do develop some type of hostility, rejection, or a desire to stop speaking with, or spending time with the other parent. A young child may cling to one parent and avoid the other parent. An older child may develop sleep disorders or have anger issues. Other signs of alienation syndrome include:
- Having trouble forming close relationships
- Inappropriate feelings of vulnerability
- Conflicts with authority
- Withdrawing from social situations
- Developing psychological dependency
By understanding the effects of divorce on children, you can also take steps in preventing this type of behavior.
Children sometimes suffer the most during the divorce process, but this does not have to be the case. Parents can emotionally support their children when they may be experiencing feelings of anxiety, confusion, or a sense of displacement. The children are losing the security of a unified home and must deal with the stresses and uncertainty that come with having divorced parents. Understand the signs of parental alienation, and determine what you can do, keeping in mind that healthy and supportive co-parenting is a key component to insuring that the children’s best interests are first and foremost during and after the divorce.
Seeking custody of your children is not a decision that should be taken lightly. Careful consideration, and avoiding the common pitfalls that sabotage child custody litigation, can help you make the best choices for you and your children. For more tips to successfully navigate through child custody litigation without sabotaging your case, it is wise to consult with an experienced lawyer who is exclusively dedicated to divorce and child custody matters.
Attorney Eric C. Cheshire has been helping families since 1988 navigate through the legal system when it comes to child custody and other family law issues. Call him today at (561) 677-8090 for a consultation to see how he can assist you with your case. Or fill out the Family Law Question on the left side of the page. He will reply to you personally.