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Contested Divorce Lawyer Staten Island, NY

Contested Divorce Lawyer Staten Island, NY

How to Behave as a Parent If You Are in a Contested Child Custody Litigation

If you just started or are in the middle of a contested child custody fight, you must behave in a way that will best help you win custody of your children.

In a child custody case, if both parents are seeking to be the “sole legal custodial and residential parent,” (that is, they want their children living with them the majority of the time, and wish to have final decision on their children’s lives) the Court will assign an attorney or attorneys who represent the interest of your children, and possibly a “Forensic Evaluator” who will conduct psychological tests and interviews with the parents, children and children’s network. As a contested divorce lawyer Staten Island, NY can tell you, many people are unsure of how to “behave” when a divorce litigation is in process. Parents undergoing custody battles are expected to act as if they are under an extreme microscope- every one of your actions could be scrutinized by the Judge, an attorney for the child, and other child behavior professionals.

The best advice to keep in mind is — you must pretend to be the most cooperative, loving, and mature parent. You should not email, text, or post disparaging comments via email, text message or post on social media. You should never say or write negative things about your spouse to third parties or in front of the children. This is difficult for many parents, as there is a lot of hostility, ill-will and hatred towards the other party. However, during a custody litigation, you must block out the negative thoughts of the other party and only focus on the love for your children. 

Parents who cannot put aside their hostility, ill-will, and hatred will end up in precarious positions with the Court, attorney for the children, or forensic evaluator. The Court will judge you on whether you are capable of behaving in “the best interest of the children” and whether you can “foster a relationship with the other parent” in order to grant custody to one parent. As a contested divorce lawyer Staten Island, NY can tell you, the best interest of the children is legal standard that the courts judge the parents. 

To determine best interest of the children, parents must be willing to behave in a civil way to the other parent and ensure that both parents are able to be involved in the children’s life. If you post embarrassing and cruel posts on social media to disparage the other parent, or message their friends and family negative comments, these posts could be used as evidence against you in the custody hearing. If one parent refuses to cooperate with allowing the child to have phone calls, contact or visitations with the other parent without a valid reason, the Courts have sometimes switched custody in the middle of litigation. Sometimes, one parent will attempt to block the other parent out of the children’s schools, family, etc. This is called “alienation” of one parent. Alienation is a serious accusation, and Courts do not take this offense lightly. If parent is found to have alienated the other parent, there is a high likelihood they are losing custody.

Sometimes parents who never showed interest in being a part of a child’s life previously, suddenly show interest during a litigation and try to be involved in their children’s activities. If you are a parent who was the main caretaker and decision-maker of your children but unexpectedly, your spouse takes an interest during litigation in being involved, you must be cooperative. Even if they have never shown an interest previously, their opinion should be considered, and you should try your best to cooperate or meet in the middle. Divorcing couples must keep in mind that their lives and their children’s lives will never be the same again. Uninvolved parents will pretend to be a great parent for the purposes of the custody litigation. If you have always been the main caretaker, you should not be discouraged and complain that the spouse is suddenly involved. The other party is guided by their attorneys and are behaving in an improved manner. You should keep in mind that a divorce will change the way children live their lives. In the past, you may of have had full control over all decisions. When a divorce is in litigation, the other party may want to share their opinions and their feelings about their children as well. 

When you send emails and text messages, it is recommended that you keep the language in a neutral tone and to use as few words as possible. Do not provide extra explanations or details. This way your correspondence will not be misconstrued in court or used as evidence as alienation or proof that you are trying to block the other parent from being involved in your child’s life. 

If your spouse knows how to aggravate you, it is best to draft your documents and emails as if they will be read in evidence in court later. You must behave as if you will always need to consult with the other party. Until a final determination of custody is resolved, both parents are going to be judged and carefully evaluated. This means that the attorney for the child and the judge will be looking at your actions to determine which parents would be the better parent to win custody. 

Parents must get used to the idea that they will no longer be the sole decision maker, (unless you win sole custody) and it is likely that the children will live in two different homes. It is best not to interfere with the other party’s parenting style unless it is dangerous. When your child at the other parent’s home, you should respect their privacy and tell your children to follow their rules. Do not interfere or tell your children to ignore the rules of the other party. This will help with co-parenting, and future interactions. The parent that is deemed the most stable, cooperative and appropriately behaved will win custody.

Clients who do not listen to their contested divorce lawyer Staten Island, NY risk losing visitation time and custody. Therefore, if you wish to be the main custodial parent you must behave with grace, control reserve, and appear as if you are being cooperative and willing to foster relationship between child and parent. The parents that behave in alienating manners will leave a bad impression with the judge. Any parent who is proven to be alienating their children from the other parent will risk punishment from the court as well as a loss of custody. Contact us today at the Kleyman Law Firm.